Employers or managers convicted of gross negligence manslaughter after a workplace fatality are likely to face longer prison sentences under a new guideline published by the Sentencing Council on 31 July.
Applying to sentences delivered in England or Wales on or after 1 November, the newÂ guidelineÂ is an attempt to bring consistent sentencing to sentences for all forms of manslaughter, but the Sentencing Council says it is likely to have the effect of increasing sentences in gross negligence cases.
When the Sentencing Council analysed sentences for the 16 offenders convicted in 2014, it found custodial terms ranging from nine months to 12 years, with four suspended sentences.
Giving the example of an employer where â€œlong-standing and serious disregard for the safety of employees, motivated by cost-cutting, has led to someone being killedâ€, it states that â€œcurrent sentencing practice in these sorts of cases is [currently] lower in the context of overall sentence levels for manslaughter than for other typesâ€.
The new guideline sets out four levels of culpability for those convicted, with the sentence range for â€œvery high culpabilityâ€ offences starting at 12 yearsâ€™ in prison, with a range of 10 to 18 years.
The â€œhigh culpabilityâ€ category, with a starting point of 8 yearsâ€™ custody and a range of 6 to 12 years, would occur if there was a â€œblatant disregard for a very high risk of deathâ€ or the negligent conduct was motivated by financial gain, or the avoidance of cost.
The â€œmedium culpabilityâ€ category, with a starting point of 6 yearsâ€™ custody and a range of 3 to 9 years, would occur if there was a â€œwhere death was caused in the course of an unlawful act which involved an intention by the offender to cause harm.
The â€œlower culpabilityâ€ category, with a starting point of 2 yearsâ€™ custody and a range of 1 to 4 years, would occur if there was a â€œwhere there was no intention by the offender to cause any harm and noÂ obvious risk of anything more than minor harm.”
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