New sentencing guidelines proposed for child cruelty and FGM offences

Sentencing Council looking for your views on terms to be served by offenders

​College members are being asked for their views as part of public consultation on how people found guilty of a range of child cruelty offences should be sentenced.

Last month, the Sentencing Council launched a 13-week consultation on the draft guidelines for England and Wales, which includes revised guidance for the offence of cruelty to a child, which will replace existing guidance.

For the first time, guidance for the offences of causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm and failing to protect a girl from the risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) have also been included.

The guidance also specifies that seeking to blame others for an offence should be considered an aggravating factor, in an attempt to ensure parents or guardians are held to account if they try to avoid responsibility.

The draft guidance also clarifies that an offence has been committed when a parent or carer of a girl under 16 allows FGM to take place, unless they can show that they were not aware of such a risk and reasonably could not have been expected to be, or that they took reasonable steps in order to protect the girl.

The proposed new guidance aims to allow a better assessment of these complex offences to help ensure consistent and proportionate sentencing for the wide range of offending that comes before the courts.

Cruelty to a child can involve ill-treatment and assault, neglect, abandonment and failure to protect a child.

The proposed guidance takes into account the psychological impact these offences can have on victims.

The consultation runs until 13 September and can be accessed on the council's website.

The Sentencing Council is also running a separate consultation on proposals for how offenders convicted of manslaughter should be punished. The proposed changes could see sentences increased for some gross negligence cases. The consultation runs until 10 October and details are available on the council's website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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