The revised guidelines reflect the recent changes made by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, which raised the maximum penalties for the offences of causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm (section 5 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004), and cruelty to a child (section 1(1) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933). The statutory maximum penalties for cruelty to a child and causing or allowing a child to suffer serious harm have been raised from 10 to 14 years’ custody. The maximum penalty for causing or allowing a child to die has been raised from 14 years’ custody to life imprisonment.
Consultees were in favour of the Council’s proposals to make an adjustment to the existing guidelines by introducing a new category of ‘very high culpability’ to cover the very most serious cases of child cruelty, reflecting the higher maxima. Full details are set out in the consultation response document, also being published today which can be found on the Sentencing Council website www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk.