Tougher sentences for those convicted of child cruelty in England and Wales are set to be introduced later this year.
The increased sentences follow a campaign by Paula Hudgell from Kent, whose adopted son Tony had to have both legs amputated as a result of abuse and neglect by his birth parents.
The bill raised the maximum penalties for two offences: causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm, and cruelty to a child.
New 'Very High Culpability' CategoryThe Sentencing Council—which last issued guidance on child cruelty in 2018—is proposing to introduce a new category of "very high culpability" to cover the most serious cases and allow for the harshest sentences.
But the changes are subject to a public consultation that will last until the end of October. The Sentencing Council said it particularly wants to hear the views of victims and their families and also defendants and their families.
The council also proposed increasing the starting term for the offence of cruelty to a child from 8 to 12 years.
Even though the proposed starting terms are being raised, judges would still be able to reduce them, if the defence produces convincing mitigation, or raise them if there were aggravating features of the offence.
Hudgell wants the government to go further and introduce a child cruelty register, which would enable police and social services to keep track of offenders after their release from prison and ensure they are kept away from children.