Sentencing Council; manslaughter sentencing consultation
The Sentencing Council has today published a consultation paper on sentencing for manslaughter. The timing of this consultation is particularly apt, giving the recent announcement of charges being brought in relation to the Hillsborough disaster and the possibility of charges resulting from the Grenfall Tower fire.
Although much of the media reaction has been to suggest that Judges are being told to impose longer sentences, that is not what the consultation is about. The sentencing guidelines exist to provide a framework within which judge’s work, and to try to ensure consistency throughout the judicial system. There are a number of guidelines already in use, covering robbery, theft, burglary, assault, sexual offences and drugs.
Manslaughter has always been a difficult offence to sentence for, as there are so many different sets of circumstances. The consultation sets out different guidelines for different types of manslaughter; unlawful act manslaughter, which often involves death as a result of a single punch; gross negligence manslaughter; manslaughter by loss of control or by diminished responsibility. There are some significant ranges within the guidelines, for example the guidelines for diminished responsibility range from 3 years imprisonment to 40 years. This is simply reflecting the difficulties that judges have faced for years.
If you want to know more about the work of the Sentencing Council, visit their website here