Organisations: Unauthorised or harmful deposit, treatment or disposal etc of waste/ Illegal discharges to air, land and water

Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010 , regulations 12 and 38(1), (2) and (3), Environmental Protection Act 1990, s.33
Effective from: 1 July 2014

Triable either way
Maximum: when tried on indictment: unlimited fine when tried summarily: unlimited fine
Offence range: £100 fine – £3 million fine

Use this guideline when the offender is an organisation. If the offender is an individual, please refer to the guideline for individuals.

Confiscation

Committal to the Crown Court for sentence is mandatory if confiscation (see step two) is to be considered: Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 section 70. In such cases magistrates should state whether they would otherwise have committed for sentence.

Financial orders must be considered in this order: (1) compensation, (2) confiscation, and (3) fine (see Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 section 13).

Also relevant, with adjustments, to certain related offences.

User guide for this offence


Guideline users should be aware that the Equal Treatment Bench Book covers important aspects of fair treatment and disparity of outcomes for different groups in the criminal justice system. It provides guidance which sentencers are encouraged to take into account wherever applicable, to ensure that there is fairness for all involved in court proceedings.

Applicability

In accordance with section 120 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the Sentencing Council issues this definitive guideline. It applies to all organisations that are sentenced on or after 1 July 2014, regardless of the date of the offence.*

Section 125(1) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 provides that when sentencing offences committed after 6 April 2010:

“Every court –

  1. must, in sentencing an offender, follow any sentencing guideline which is relevant to the offender’s case, and
  2. must, in exercising any other function relating to the sentencing of offenders, follow any sentencing guidelines which are relevant to the exercise of the function,

unless the court is satisfied that it would be contrary to the interests of justice to do so.”

Structure, ranges and starting points

For the purposes of section 125(3)–(4) of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, the guideline specifies offence ranges – the range of sentences appropriate for each type of offence. Within each offence, the Council has specified a number of categories which reflect varying degrees of seriousness. The offence range is split into category ranges – sentences appropriate for each level of seriousness. The Council has also identified a starting point within each category.

Starting points define the position within a category range from which to start calculating the provisional sentence. The court should consider further features of the offence or the offender that warrant adjustment of the sentence within the range, including the aggravating and mitigating factors set out at step four. In this guideline, if the proposed sentence is a fine, having identified a provisional sentence within the range at step four the court is required to consider a further set of factors that may require a final adjustment to the sentence. Starting points and ranges apply to all offenders, whether they have pleaded guilty or been convicted after trial. Credit for a guilty plea is taken into consideration only at step nine after the appropriate sentence has been identified.

*The maximum sentence that applies to an offence is the maximum that applied at the date of the offence.


Step 1 – Compensation

The court must consider making a compensation order requiring the offender to pay compensation for any personal injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence in such an amount as the court considers appropriate, having regard to the evidence and to the means of the offender.

Where the means of the offender are limited, priority should be given to the payment of compensation over payment of any other financial penalty.

Reasons should be given if a compensation order is not made.

(See section 130 Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000)

Step 2 – Confiscation (Crown Court only)

Confiscation must be considered if either the Crown asks for it or the court thinks that it may be appropriate. Confiscation must be dealt with before any other fine or financial order (except compensation).

(See sections 6 and 13 Proceeds of Crime Act 2002)

Step 3 – Determining the offence category

The court should determine the offence category using only the culpability and harm factors in the tables below. The culpability and harm categories are on a sliding scale; there is inevitable overlap between the factors described in adjacent categories. Where an offence does not fall squarely into a category, individual factors may require a degree of weighting before making an overall assessment and determining the appropriate offence category.

Dealing with a risk of harm involves consideration of both the likelihood of harm occurring and the extent of it if it does. Risk of harm is less serious than the same actual harm. Where the offence has caused risk of harm but no (or less) actual harm the normal approach is to move down to the next category of harm. This may not be appropriate if either the likelihood or extent of potential harm is particularly high.

Culpability

Deliberate

Intentional breach of or flagrant disregard for the law by person(s) whose position of responsibility in the organisation is such that their acts/omissions can properly be attributed to the organisation;

OR

deliberate failure by organisation to put in place and to enforce such systems as could reasonably be expected in all the circumstances to avoid commission of the offence.

Reckless

Actual foresight of, or wilful blindness to, risk of offending but risk nevertheless taken by person(s) whose position of responsibility in the organisation is such that their acts/ omissions can properly be attributed to the organisation;

OR

reckless failure by organisation to put in place and to enforce such systems as could reasonably be expected in all the circumstances to avoid commission of the offence.

Negligent

Failure by the organisation as a whole to take reasonable care to put in place and enforce proper systems for avoiding commission of the offence.

Low or no culpability

Offence committed with little or no fault on the part of the organisation as a whole, for example by accident or the act of a rogue employee and despite the presence and due enforcement of all reasonably required preventive measures, or where such proper preventive measures were unforeseeably overcome by exceptional events.

Harm

Category 1

  • Polluting material of a dangerous nature, for example, hazardous chemicals or sharp objects
  • Major adverse effect or damage to air or water quality, amenity value, or property
  • Polluting material was noxious, widespread or pervasive with longlasting effects on human health or quality of life, animal health or flora
  • Major costs incurred through clean-up, site restoration or animal rehabilitation
  • Major interference with, prevention or undermining of other lawful activities or regulatory regime due to offence

Category 2

  • Significant adverse effect or damage to air or water quality, amenity value, or property
  • Significant adverse effect on human health or quality of life, animal health or flora
  • Significant costs incurred through clean-up, site restoration or animal rehabilitation
  • Significant interference with or undermining of other lawful activities or regulatory regime due to offence
  • Risk of category 1 harm

Category 3

  • Minor, localised adverse effect or damage to air or water quality, amenity value, or property
  • Minor adverse effect on human health or quality of life, animal health or flora
  • Low costs incurred through clean-up, site restoration or animal rehabilitation
  • Limited interference with or undermining of other lawful activities or regulatory regime due to offence
  • Risk of category 2 harm

Category 4

  • Risk of category 3 harm

Step 4 – Starting point and category range

Having determined the category, the court should refer to the tables in the drop down boxes below. There are four tables of starting points and ranges: one for large organisations, one for medium organisations, one for small organisations and one for micro-organisations.

The court should refer to the table that relates to the size of the offending organisation. The court should use the corresponding starting point to reach a sentence within the category range. The court should then consider further adjustment within the category range for aggravating and mitigating features, set out below.

General principles to follow in setting a fine

The court should determine 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 the court to 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.

Obtaining financial information

Offenders which are companies, partnerships or bodies delivering a public or charitable service, are expected to provide comprehensive accounts for the last three years, to enable the court to make an accurate assessment of its financial status. In the absence of such disclosure, or where the court is not satisfied that it has been given sufficient reliable information, the court will be entitled to draw reasonable inferences as to the offender’s means from evidence it has heard and from all the circumstances of the case.

Normally, only information relating to the organisation before the court will be relevant, unless it is demonstrated to the court that the resources of a linked organisation are available and can properly be taken into account.

  1. For companies: annual accounts. Particular attention should be paid to turnover; profit before tax; directors’ remuneration, loan accounts and pension provision; and assets as disclosed by the balance sheet. Most companies are required to file audited accounts at Companies House. Failure to produce relevant recent accounts on request may properly lead to the conclusion that the company can pay any appropriate fine.
  2. For partnerships: annual accounts. Particular attention should be paid to turnover; profit before tax; partners’ drawings, loan accounts and pension provision; assets as above. Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs) may be required to file audited accounts with Companies House. If adequate accounts are not produced on request, see paragraph 1.
  3. For local authorities, fire authorities and similar public bodies: the Annual Revenue Budget (“ARB”) is the equivalent of turnover and the best indication of the size of the defendant organisation. It is unlikely to be necessary to analyse specific expenditure or reserves (where relevant) unless inappropriate expenditure is suggested.
  4. For health trusts: the independent regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts is Monitor. It publishes quarterly reports and annual figures for the financial strength and stability of trusts from which the annual income can be seen, available via the Monitor website. Detailed analysis of expenditure or reserves is unlikely to be called for.
  5. For charities: it will be appropriate to inspect annual audited accounts. Detailed analysis of expenditure or reserves is unlikely to be called for unless there is a suggestion of unusual or unnecessary expenditure.

At step four, the court will be required to focus on the organisation’s annual turnover or equivalent to reach a starting point for a fine. At step six, the court may be required to refer to the other financial factors listed above to ensure that the proposed fine is proportionate.

Very large organisations

Where a defendant company’s turnover or equivalent very greatly exceeds the threshold for large companies, it may be necessary to move outside the suggested range to achieve a proportionate sentence.

Large - Turnover or equivalent: £50 million and over
Large Starting Point Range
Deliberate
Category 1 £1,000,000 £450,000 – £3,000,000
Category 2 £500,000 £180,000 – £1,250,000
Category 3 £180,000 £100,000 – £450,000
Category 4 £100,000 £55,000 – £250,000
Reckless
Category 1 £550,000 £250,000 – £1,500,000
Category 2 £250,000 £100,000 – £650,000
Category 3 £100,000 £60,000 – £250,000
Category 4 £60,000 £35,000 – £160,000
Negligent
Category 1 £300,000 £140,000 – £750,000
Category 2 £140,000 £60,000 – £350,000
Category 3 £60,000 £35,000 – £150,000
Category 4 £35,000 £22,000 – £100,000
Low / No culpability
Category 1 £50,000 £25,000 – £130,000
Category 2 £25,000 £14,000 – £70,000
Category 3 £14,000 £10,000 – £40,000
Category 4 £10,000 £7,000 – £25,000
Medium - Turnover or equivalent: between £10 million and £50 million
Medium Starting Point Range
Deliberate
Category 1 £400,000 £170,000 – £1,000,000
Category 2 £170,000 £70,000 – £450,000
Category 3 £70,000 £40,000 – £180,000
Category 4 £40,000 £22,000 – £100,000
Reckless
Category 1 £220,000 £100,000 – £500,000
Category 2 £100,000 £40,000 – £250,000
Category 3 £40,000 £24,000 – £100,000
Category 4 £24,000 £14,000 – £60,000
Negligent
Category 1 £120,000 £55,000 – £300,000
Category 2 £55,000 £25,000 – £140,000
Category 3 £25,000 £14,000 – £60,000
Category 4 £14,000 £8,000 – £35,000
Low / No culpability
Category 1 £20,000 £10,000 – £50,000
Category 2 £10,000 £5,500 – £25,000
Category 3 £5,000 £3,500 – £14,000
Category 4 £3,000 £2,500 – £10,000
Small - Turnover or equivalent: between £2 million and £10 million
Small Starting Point Range
Deliberate
Category 1 £100,000 £45,000 – £400,000
Category 2 £45,000 £17,000 – £170,000
Category 3 £17,000 £10,000 – £70,000
Category 4 £10,000 £5,000 – £40,000
Reckless
Category 1 £55,000 £24,000 – £220,000
Category 2 £24,000 £10,000 – £100,000
Category 3 £10,000 £5,000 – £40,000
Category 4 £5,000 £3,000 – £24,000
Negligent
Category 1 £30,000 £13,000 – £120,000
Category 2 £13,000 £6,000 – £55,000
Category 3 £6,000 £3,000 – £23,000
Category 4 £3,000 £1,500 – £14,000
Low / No culpability
Category 1 £5,000 £2,500 – £20,000
Category 2 £2,500 £1,000 – £10,000
Category 3 £1,000 £700 – £5,000
Category 4 £700 £400 – £3,500
Micro - Turnover or equivalent: not more than £2 million
Micro Starting Point Range
Deliberate 
Category 1 £50,000 £9,000 – £95,000
Category 2 £22,000 £3,000 – £45,000
Category 3 £9,000 £2,000 – £17,000
Category 4 £5,000 £1,000 – £10,000
Reckless
Category 1 £30,000 £3,000 – £55,000
Category 2 £12,000 £1,500 – £24,000
Category 3 £5,000 £1,000 – £10,000
Category 4 £3,000 £500 – £5,500
Negligent
Category 1 £15,000 £1,500 – £30,000
Category 2 £6,500 £1,000 – £13,000
Category 3 £2,500 £500 – £5,500
Category 4 £1,400 £350 – £3,000
Low / No culpability
Category 1 £2,500 £500 – £5,000
Category 2 £1,000 £350 – £2,400
Category 3 £400 £175 – £1,000
Category 4 £200 £100 – £700

The table below contains a non-exhaustive list of factual elements providing the context of the offence and factors relating to the offender. Identify whether any combination of these, or other relevant factors, should result in an upward or downward adjustment from the starting point. In particular, relevant recent convictions and/or a history of non-compliance are likely to result in a substantial upward adjustment. In some cases, having considered these factors, it may be appropriate to move outside the identified category range.

Factors increasing seriousness

Statutory aggravating factors

  • Previous convictions,

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm or those inherent in the offence

    Guidance on the use of previous convictions

    The following guidance should be considered when seeking to determine the degree to which previous convictions should aggravate sentence:

    Section 143 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 states that:

    In considering the seriousness of an offence (“the current offence”) committed by an offender who has one or more previous convictions, the court must treat each previous conviction as an aggravating factor if (in the case of that conviction) the court considers that it can reasonably be so treated having regard, in particular, to—

    (a) the nature of the offence to which the conviction relates and its relevance to the current offence, and

    (b) the time that has elapsed since the conviction.

    1. Previous convictions are considered at step two in the Council’s offence-specific guidelines.
    2. The primary significance of previous convictions (including convictions in other jurisdictions) is the extent to which they indicate trends in offending behaviour and possibly the offender’s response to earlier sentences.
    3. Previous convictions are normally relevant to the current offence when they are of a similar type.
    4. Previous convictions of a type different from the current offence may be relevant where they are an indication of persistent offending or escalation and/or a failure to comply with previous court orders.
    5. Numerous and frequent previous convictions might indicate an underlying problem (for example, an addiction) that could be addressed more effectively in the community and will not necessarily indicate that a custodial sentence is necessary.
    6. If the offender received a non-custodial disposal for the previous offence, a court should not necessarily move to a custodial sentence for the fresh offence.
    7. In cases involving significant persistent offending, the community and custody thresholds may be crossed even though the current offence normally warrants a lesser sentence. If a custodial sentence is imposed it should be proportionate and kept to the necessary minimum.
    8. The aggravating effect of relevant previous convictions reduces with the passage of time; older convictions are less relevant to the offender’s culpability for the current offence and less likely to be predictive of future offending.
    9. Where the previous offence is particularly old it will normally have little relevance for the current sentencing exercise.
    10. The court should consider the time gap since the previous conviction and the reason for it. Where there has been a significant gap between previous and current convictions or a reduction in the frequency of offending this may indicate that the offender has made attempts to desist from offending in which case the aggravating effect of the previous offending will diminish.
    11. Where the current offence is significantly less serious than the previous conviction (suggesting a decline in the gravity of offending), the previous conviction may carry less weight.
    12. When considering the totality of previous offending a court should take a rounded view of the previous crimes and not simply aggregate the individual offences.
    13. Where information is available on the context of previous offending this may assist the court in assessing the relevance of that prior offending to the current offence
    having regard to a) the nature of the offence to which the conviction relates and its relevance to the current offence; and b) the time that has elapsed since the conviction

Other aggravating factors include

  • History of non-compliance with warnings by regulator
  • Location of the offence, for example, near housing, schools, livestock or environmentally sensitive sites
  • Repeated incidents of offending or offending over an extended period of time, where not charged separately
  • Deliberate concealment of illegal nature of activity
  • Ignoring risks identified by employees or others

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm or those inherent in the offence

    Where an offender has had the benefit of warnings or advice about their conduct but has failed to heed it, this would make the offender more blameworthy.

    This may particularly be the case when:

    • such warning(s) or advice were of an official nature or from a professional source and/or
    • the warning(s) were made at the time of or shortly before the commission of the offence.

    When sentencing young adult offenders (typically aged 18-25), consideration should also be given to the guidance on the mitigating factor relating to age and/or lack of maturity when considering the significance of this factor.

  • Established evidence of wider/community impact

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm or those inherent in the offence

    • This factor should increase the sentence only where there is clear evidence of wider harm not already taken into account elsewhere. A community impact statement will assist the court in assessing the level of impact.
    • For issues of prevalence see the separate guidance below:

    Prevalence

    • Sentencing levels in offence specific guidelines take account of collective social harm. Accordingly offenders should normally be sentenced by straightforward application of the guidelines without aggravation for the fact that their activity contributed to a harmful social effect upon a neighbourhood or community.
    • It is not open to a sentencer to increase a sentence for prevalence in ordinary circumstances or in response to a personal view that there is 'too much of this sort of thing going on in this area'.
    • First, there must be evidence provided to the court by a responsible body or by a senior police officer.
    • Secondly, that evidence must be before the court in the specific case being considered with the relevant statements or reports having been made available to the Crown and defence in good time so that meaningful representations about that material can be made.
    • Even if such material is provided, a sentencer will only be entitled to treat prevalence as an aggravating factor if satisfied
      • that the level of harm caused in a particular locality is significantly higher than that caused elsewhere (and thus already inherent in the guideline levels);
      • that the circumstances can properly be described as exceptional; and
      • that it is just and proportionate to increase the sentence for such a factor in the particular case being sentenced.
     
  • Breach of any order

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm or those inherent in the offence

    • Commission of an offence while subject to a relevant court order makes the offence more serious.
    • The extent to which the offender has complied with the conditions of an order (including the time that has elapsed since its commencement) will be a relevant consideration.
    • Where the offender is dealt with separately for a breach of an order regard should be had to totality
    • Care should be taken to avoid double counting matters taken into account when considering previous convictions.

    When sentencing young adult offenders (typically aged 18-25), consideration should also be given to the guidance on the mitigating factor relating to age and/or lack of maturity when considering the significance of this factor.

  • Offence committed for financial gain

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm or those inherent in the offence

    • Where an offence (which is not one which by its nature is an acquisitive offence) has been committed wholly or in part for financial gain or the avoidance of cost, this will increase the seriousness.
    • Where the offending is committed in a commercial context for financial gain or the avoidance of costs, this will normally indicate a higher level of culpability.
      • examples would include, but are not limited to, dealing in unlawful goods, failing to disclose relevant matters to an authority or regulator, failing to comply with a regulation or failing to obtain the necessary licence or permission in order to avoid costs.
      • offending of this type can undermine legitimate businesses.
    • See the guidance on fines if considering a financial penalty.

     

     
  • Obstruction of justice

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm or those inherent in the offence

    The more sophisticated, extensive or persistent the actions after the event, the more likely it is to increase the seriousness of the offence.

    When sentencing young adult offenders (typically aged 18-25), consideration should also be given to the guidance on the mitigating factor relating to age and lack of maturity when considering the significance of such conduct.

    Where any such actions are the subject of separate charges, this should be taken into account when assessing totality.

      

Factors reducing seriousness or reflecting mitigation

  • No previous convictions or no relevant/recent convictions

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm

    • First time offenders usually represent a lower risk of reoffending. Reoffending rates for first offenders are significantly lower than rates for repeat offenders. In addition, first offenders are normally regarded as less blameworthy than offenders who have committed the same crime several times already. For these reasons first offenders receive a mitigated sentence.
    • Where there are previous offences but these are old and /or are for offending of a different nature, the sentence will normally be reduced to reflect that the new offence is not part of a pattern of offending and there is therefore a lower likelihood of reoffending.
    • When assessing whether a previous conviction is ‘recent’ the court should consider the time gap since the previous conviction and the reason for it. 
    • Previous convictions are likely to be ‘relevant’ when they share characteristics with the current offence (examples of such characteristics include, but are not limited to: dishonesty, violence, abuse of position or trust, use or possession of weapons, disobedience of court orders).  In general the more serious the previous offending the longer it will retain relevance.
     
  • Evidence of steps taken to remedy problem
  • Remorse

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm

    The court will need to be satisfied that the offender is genuinely remorseful for the offending behaviour in order to reduce the sentence (separate from any guilty plea reduction).

    Lack of remorse should never be treated as an aggravating factor.

     
  • Compensation paid voluntarily to remedy harm caused
  • One-off event not commercially motivated
  • Little or no financial gain

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm

    Where an offence (which is not one which by its nature is an acquisitive offence) is committed in a context where financial gain could arise, the culpability of the offender may be reduced where it can be shown that the offender did not seek to gain financially from the conduct and did not in fact do so.

  • Effective compliance and ethics programme
  • Self-reporting, co-operation and acceptance of responsibility

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm

    Where an offender has self-reported to the authorities, particularly in circumstances where the offence may otherwise have gone undetected, this should reduce the sentence (separate from any guilty plea reduction).

     
  • Good character and/or exemplary conduct

    Effective from: 01 October 2019

    Care should be taken to avoid double counting factors including those already taken into account in assessing culpability or harm

    This factor may apply whether or not the offender has previous convictions.  Evidence that an offender has demonstrated positive good character through, for example, charitable works may reduce the sentence. 

    However, this factor is less likely to be relevant where the offending is very serious.  Where an offender has used their good character or status to facilitate or conceal the offending it could be treated as an aggravating factor.

     

Steps 5 to 7

The court should now ‘step back’ and, using the factors set out in steps five, six and seven, review whether the sentence as a whole meets, in a fair way, the objectives of punishment, deterrence and removal of gain derived through the commission of the offence. At steps five to seven, the court may increase or reduce the proposed fine reached at step four, if necessary moving outside the range.

Step 5 – Ensure that the combination of financial orders (compensation, confiscation if appropriate, and fine) removes any economic benefit derived from the offending

The court should remove any economic benefit the offender has derived through the commission of the offence including:

  • avoided costs;
  • operating savings;
  • any gain made as a direct result of the offence.

Where the offender is fined, the amount of economic benefit derived from the offence should normally be added to the fine arrived at in step four. If a confiscation order is made, in considering economic benefit, the court should avoid double recovery.

Economic benefit will not always be an identifiable feature of a case. For example, in some water pollution cases there may be strict liability but very little obvious gain. However, even in these cases there may be some avoidance of cost, for example alarms not installed and maintained, inadequate bunding or security measures not installed. Any costs avoided will be considered as economic benefit.

Where it is not possible to calculate or estimate the economic benefit, the court may wish to draw on information from the enforcing authorities about the general costs of operating within the law.

Step 6 – Check whether the proposed fine based on turnover is proportionate to the means of the offender

The combination of financial orders must be sufficiently substantial to have a real economic impact which will bring home to both management and shareholders the need to improve regulatory compliance. Whether the fine will have the effect of putting the offender out of business will be relevant; in some bad cases this may be an acceptable consequence.

It will be necessary to examine the financial circumstances of the organisation in the round. If an organisation has a small profit margin relative to its turnover, downward adjustment may be needed. If it has a large profit margin, upward adjustment may be needed.

In considering the ability of the offending organisation to pay any financial penalty, the court can take into account the power to allow time for payment or to order that the amount be paid in instalments.

Step 7 – Consider other factors that may warrant adjustment of the proposed fine

The court should consider any further factors that are relevant to ensuring that the proposed fine is proportionate having regard to the means of the offender and the seriousness of the offence.

Where the fine will fall on public or charitable bodies, the fine should normally be substantially reduced if the offending organisation is able to demonstrate the proposed fine would have a significant impact on the provision of their services.

The non-exhaustive list below contains additional factual elements the court should consider in deciding whether an increase or reduction to the proposed fine is required:

  • fine impairs offender’s ability to make restitution to victims;
  • impact of fine on offender’s ability to improve conditions in the organisation to comply with the law;
  • impact of fine on employment of staff, service users, customers and local economy.

Step 8 – Consider any factors which indicate a reduction, such as assistance to the prosecution

The court should take into account sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 (assistance by defendants: reduction or review of sentence) and any other rule of law by virtue of which an offender may receive a discounted sentence in consequence of assistance given (or offered) to the prosecutor or investigator.

Step 9 – Reduction for guilty pleas

The court should take account of any potential reduction for a guilty plea in accordance with section 144 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 and the guideline for Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea (where first hearing is on or after 1 June 2017, or first hearing before 1 June 2017).

Step 10 – Ancillary orders

In all cases, the court must consider whether to make ancillary orders. These may include:

Forfeiture of vehicle

The court may order the forfeiture of a vehicle used in or for the purposes of the commission of the offence in accordance with section 33C of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Deprivation of property

Where section 33C of the Environmental Protection Act 1990 does not apply, the court may order the offender be deprived of property used to commit crime or intended for that purpose in accordance with section 143 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000. In considering whether to make an order under section 143, the court must have regard to the value of the property and the likely effects on the offender of making the order taken together with any other order the court makes.

Remediation

Where an offender is convicted of an offence under regulation 38(1), (2) or (3) of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010, a court may order the offender to take steps to remedy the cause of the offence within a specified period in accordance with regulation 44 of the Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010.

Step 11 – Totality principle

If sentencing an offender for more than one offence, or where the offender is already serving a sentence, consider whether the total sentence is just and proportionate to the offending behaviour. See Totality guideline.

Step 12 – Reasons

Section 174 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003 imposes a duty to give reasons for, and explain the effect of, the sentence.


Other environmental offences

In sentencing other relevant and analogous environmental offences, the court should refer to the sentencing approach in steps one to three and five to seven of the guideline, adjusting the starting points and ranges bearing in mind the statutory maxima for those offences.

Refer to Environmental offences (other) for an indicative list of such offences.