Sentences for individuals – more custodial sentences?

Less than 190 individuals have received an immediate or suspended custodial sentence for health and safety offences since the HSW Act came into force in 1975, in addition to 54 for the common law offence of manslaughter (excluding fire safety offences)

However, since February 2016, when the new definitive guideline from the Sentencing Council came into force, there has been a large spiked increase in the number of custodial sentences for individuals, some of them suspended (estimated 15 at the time of writing this article).

Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance - In order to protect themselves against this increased risk of custodial sentences for Health and Safety offences, Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance is now, in our view, of crucial importance for Directors. DWF is also looking at a bespoke service specifically for individuals based on our highly recommended crisis response service for businesses.

INDG417 - To assist with leading and managing their company in relation to health and safety, Directors may wish to refer to HSE guidance INDG417, ‘Leading Health and Safety at Work’. This provides a useful guide on how directors can ensure they meet their legal obligations regarding health and safety laws. It is a joint publication with the Institute of Directors, and as such represents a definitive and industry sponsored statement of best practice.

Author: Simon Tingle

This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.

Simon Tingle


I am a Solicitor in the Regulatory Team, specialising in corporate defence work. I represent companies and individuals in relation to investigations and prosecutions as well as providing compliance advice.

Simon Belfield

Senior Associate

I am a corporate defence specialist who provides up-front regulatory compliance advice and representation to businesses and senior managers in relation to investigations and prosecutions by regulatory bodies.