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TOUGHER COURT PENALTIES UNDER NEW GUIDELINES

Analysis of health and safety prosecutions reveals rise on most metrics

The construction safety consultancy MPW R&R has published an analysis of prosecution conviction data available on HSE web site. The data has been analysed to assess the impact of the first year of the new court Sentencing Guidelines in respect of organisations and individuals working in the construction industry convicted of breaches of health and safety legislation.

Comparisons have been made with the final year of the previous Guidelines.

Median fine increased by one-third

These analyses showed that the median fine per construction organisation increased from £13.4k under the old Sentencing Guidelines to £20k under the New Guidelines. The largest fine imposed on a construction organisation increased from £1m to £2.6m.

The proportion of individuals receiving prison or suspended prison sentences rose from around 1 in 3 (31%) to nearly 1 in 2 (47%) in the first year of the new Sentencing Guidelines. The proportion of individuals receiving fines reduced from 57% to 40% with the new Sentencing Guidelines.

Summary of findings

The research concludes with the following findings:

  1. Number of organisations – 116 construction organisations were convicted of one or more breaches in the first year of the new Sentencing Guidelines compared with 151 in the last year of the old Sentencing Guidelines.
  2. Median fines – the median fine per breach nearly doubled from £10k to £19.06k, whilst the median fine per organisation increased from £13.4k to £20k.
  3. Largest fine – the largest fine for a breach increased by 270% from £700k to £2.6m, whilst the largest fine for an organisation increased by 160% from £1m to £2.6m.
  4. Over £250k fines – in the last year of the old Sentencing Guidelines, seven breaches received fines of £250k or more – all of these were for breaches of either Sections 2 or 3 of the HSWA. In the first year of the new Sentencing Guidelines, 16 breaches received fines of £250k or more – the range of breaches receiving this level of fines had broadened, with seven breaches of the HSWA, four of CDM 2007 and two of the Work at Height Regulations.
  5. Less than £50k fines – the largest proportion of fines are still less than £50k for both breaches (61%) and organisations (66%). The proportion of fines less than £50k reduced somewhat with the introduction of the new Sentencing Guidelines: from 79% to 61% for breaches and from 75% to 65% for organisations.
  6. Fines between £100k and £200k – the proportion of breaches and organisations receiving fines between £100k and £200k has more than doubled under the new Sentencing Guidelines: from 3% to 7% for breaches and from 3% to 9% for organisations
  7. Prison sentences – there was an increase in the number of individuals receiving prison sentences from five to nine under the new Sentencing Guidelines. The number of individuals receiving suspended prison sentences rose from 14 (23%) to 25 (35%). The proportion of individuals receiving custodial sentences (prison or suspended prison sentences) rose from around 1 in 3 (31%) to nearly 1 in 2 (47%) in the first year of the new Sentencing Guidelines.
  8. Fines on individuals – the proportion of individuals receiving fines reduced from 57% to 40% under the new Sentencing Guidelines. The majority of the fines imposed on individuals were less than £10k. The median level of fine for individuals reduced from £4,500 under the old Sentencing Guidelines to £1,900 under the new Guidelines.

 

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