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The Sentencing Council has published guidance to ensure that those found guilty of health and safety, food hygiene or corporate manslaughter offences are treated fairly and proportionately. It will be applied by the courts from 1 February 2016.

The purpose of the guidelines is to improve the consistency of sentencing in health and safety cases. At present fines are calculated by judges or magistrates who have very little guidance on penalties. This means that some defendants get off relatively lightly but others are hit hard. The new guidelines state that fines must be proportionate to the size and turnover of a business. Courts must take into account relevant financial information, such as the profit margin of the organisation and the potential impact on employees.