We are currently experiencing network problems with the desktop version of Police Oracle. We hope to have these resolved as soon as possible.

Child cruelty sentencing guidelines under revision

Amended sentencing guidelines have been put out today for consultation.

The Sentencing Council has today published new draft guidelines for two offences; causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm and cruelty to a child.

The changes are designed to reflect the increases in the maximum sentences under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

The maximum penalty for cruelty to a child was raised from 10 to 14 years custody, while causing a child to die was raised from 14 years to life custody.

It comes amid a number of high profile cases which have been through the courts recently including six year old Arthur Labinjo-Hughes whose father’s partner was convicted for his murder and his father for manslaughter.

Arthur had been poisoned, starved and beaten and eventually suffered an unsurvivable brain injury.

Arthur’s father, Thomas Hughes, was originally jailed for 21 years, however the Court of Appeal increased his term to 24 years last week.

His partner Emma Tustin’s sentence stood at life with a minimum term of 29 years. On Friday, Lord Chief Justice Lord Burnett said: “The child cruelty in which she engaged was at the top end of the scale for sentencing purposes, had it been considered in isolation.

“The mechanisms of assault reflected explosive violence calculated to cause maximum harm rather than any sadism in the usual sense of the word.

“It would not alone have taken this case into 30-year minimum territory.

“It was the antecedent protracted and serious cruelty which did have an element of sadism that, on the judge’s reasoning, firmly placed this case at a minimum starting point of 30 years.”

The new guidelines propose a ‘very high culpability’ category for each of the offences to encompass the new maximum penalty.

For causing or allowing a child to die/suffer serious physical harm, those offences which fall into the highest harm and very high capability category will now have a starting point of 14 years’ custody and a category range of 12 – 18 years.

In 2019-20, the mean average custodial sentence for this offence was 6.6 years.

Meanwhile, cruelty to a child will see a starting point of seven years’ custody with a range to five to nine years.

To fall into the ‘Very high culpability’ category, offences would demonstrate ‘the extreme character of one or more culpability B (high culpability) factors and/or a combination of culpability B factors.

The decision was made not to move ‘prolonged and/or multiple incidents of serious cruelty, including serious neglect’ into this new category given that it could reflect a range of cases – those where abuse takes place over a number of weeks versus those that occur across a period of years.

The Council have explained: “The Council concluded that the inclusion of this element at the new Culpability A level would dilute the purpose of our revisions, which is to distinguish the very worst examples of offending.”

The consultation is currently open and will run until October 27.

Leave a Comment
View Comments 1
In Other News
More live links and BSL interpreters in court
Longer jail terms for terrorist offences revealed
Judges to consider intended harm in Child Sexual Offences
Consultation on new sentencing guidelines for witness intimidation
More News