Sentencing Guidelines 2016 – The Inflation Factors


Sentencing Guidelines 2016 

The new sentencing guidelines are in force from today. In general, the new guidelines will not only increase level of fines, proportionate to the severity of the offence committed and the culpability of the offender. There are however, changes to the level of punishment for health and safety law breach.


The Four Inflation Factors

Under the new sentencing guidelines, judges not only have the power to fine any amount deemed suitable and appropriate for the severity of the case and culpability of the offender. The threshold for imprisonment will be reached much more easily than before and punishments are now calculated in four inflations;

  • First Inflation Factor; the sentencing guidelines introduced a structured approach that the court must follow and this involves factors such as ‘likelihood,’ ‘culpability’ and ‘harm factors’ into a series of tables to reach suggested starting point fines. The tables specify recommended prison sentences, above and below various starting points. These tables were put together using past sentences and then, particularly for larger companies, increasing the levels of fines.


  • Second Inflation Factor; The sentencing guidelines have gone from an outcome based approach (ie the seriousness of the injury) to a risk based approach (how serious was the harm that was risked). As an example, the majority of non-fatal incidents will have an inflated fine and punishment applicable, corresponding to the severity of the risk associated with the accident.


  • Third Inflation Factor; If the offence exposed risk of harm to more than one individual, then the Court is directed to increase the punishment up to the next level.


  • Fourth Inflation Factor; If there is actual harm, the Court is directed to drive up the punishment up to the next level. In most health and safety breaches, prosecutions are made after someone has been injured and so the fourth inflation will almost always apply.


Is your organisation prepared?

Under the new sentencing guidelines, it is crucial to understand if your business is at risk. To help you start thinking about how prepared your organisation is, we’ve put together some questions for you to consider;

  1. Are you recording and investigating all accidents and near misses that occur?
  2. Do you have up to date Health & Safety policies and procedures in place?
  3. When was your last Health & Safety audit?
  4. Have you completed all recommended actions from your last Health & Safety audit?
  5. Have all staff received necessary Health & Safety training?
  6. Do you have an up to date Health & Safety training plan in place?


Speak with an expert

If you have any queries on the new sentencing guidelines and would like to discuss further, you can contact me on; or 0121 423 6200.





Michelle Jenkins BSc (Hons) GradIOSH
Risk Services Director