Publication types:

Publication topics:
Child cruelty

Published on:

4 August 2022

consultation paper on a revision to sentencing guidelines for child cruelty offences.

An online version is available here.

What is this consultation about?

The Sentencing Council is consulting on a revision to the child cruelty guidelines.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has raised the maximum penalties for two offences: causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm, and cruelty to a child.

The Sentencing Council issued guidelines for these offences in 2018 which came into force on 1 January 2019, and the Council believes that the guidelines should be revised to reflect the recent changes in maximum penalties.

The Council is proposing changes to the existing guidelines by introducing a new category of ‘very high culpability’ to cover the most serious cases of child cruelty including death, serious harm or neglect, reflecting the higher maxima.

Who should respond?

We would like to hear from anyone who uses sentencing guidelines in their work or who has an interest in sentencing. We would also like to hear from individuals and organisations representing anyone who could be affected by the proposals including:

  • victims and their families;
  • defendants and their families;
  • those under probation supervision or youth offending teams/supervision;
  • those with protected characteristics: age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.

What do we want to know?

Through this consultation process, the Council is seeking views on:

  • the proposal for a new culpability level of ‘very high culpability’; and
  • the proposed revised sentencing levels for that new level of culpability

You can give your views by answering questions on just the areas that you are interested in or all of the questions in the consultation, either by email to or by using the online questionnaire.

When do you need to respond?

The consultation runs until 27 October 2022.

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