4. Individuals: Breach of food safety and food hygiene
Step 3 – Review any financial element of the sentence
Where the sentence is or includes a fine, the court should ‘step back’ and, using the factors set out in step three, review whether the sentence as a whole meets the objectives of sentencing for these offences. The court may increase or reduce the proposed fine reached at step two, if necessary moving outside of the range.
Full regard should be given to the totality principle at step seven where multiple offences are involved.
General principles to follow in setting a fine
The court should finalise the appropriate level of fine in accordance with section 164 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003, which requires that the fine must reflect the seriousness of the offence and that the court must take into account the financial circumstances of the offender.
The level of fine should reflect the extent to which the offender fell below the required standard. The fine should meet, in a fair and proportionate way, the objectives of punishment, deterrence and the removal of gain derived through the commission of the offence; it should not be cheaper to offend than to take the appropriate precautions.
Review of the fine
Where the court proposes to impose a fine it should ‘step back’, review and, if necessary, adjust the initial fine reached at step two to ensure that it fulfils the general principles set out above.
Any quantifiable economic benefit derived from the offence, including through avoided costs or operating savings, should normally be added to the total fine arrived at in step two. Where this is not readily available, the court may draw on information available from enforcing authorities and others about the general costs of operating within the law.
In finalising the sentence, the court should have regard to the following factors relating to the wider impacts of the fine on innocent third parties; such as (but not limited to):
- impact of the fine on offender’s ability to comply with the law;
- impact of the fine on employment of staff, service users, customers and local economy.