UK law changes set to increase prison sentences for child abuse

England and Wales will introduce harsher sentences for those convicted of child abuse later this year.

The Sentencing Council recommended extending the starting period from 14 to 18 years for the worst offenses that have caused or caused the death of a child (pdf).

Kent’s Paula Hudgel had to amputate both of her adopted son Tony’s legs as a result of abuse and neglect by his biological parents.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022, which received royal assent earlier this year, includes an increase in the maximum sentence available and has been dubbed. Tony’s law After a brave young man with a prosthetic leg.

The bill raises the maximum sentence for two crimes: causing death or serious bodily harm to a child and cruelty to a child.

Epoch Times photo
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge speak with Tony Hudgel and adoptive mother Paula at Westminster Abbey in London on December 8, 2021. (Heathcliff O’Malley/PA Media)

One of the most high-profile cases of child abuse was Starr Hobson, who was murdered in Yorkshire by Savannah Brockhill in 2020. Brockhill was sentenced to life in prison, but the star’s mother Frankie Smithwas initially jailed for eight years for causing or authorizing the death, but the sentence was later extended to 12 years by the Court of Appeals after alleging Attorney General Suera Braverman was unduly lenient. it was done.

New “very high conviction rate” category

The Sentencing Council, which last issued guidance on child abuse in 2018, has proposed introducing a new category of “very high liability” to cover the most serious cases and allow for the harshest sentences. doing.

However, this change is subject to public consultation, which lasts until the end of October. The Sentencing Council said it would especially like to hear the views of the victims and their families, and the defendants and their families.

The council also proposed extending the initiation period for cruelty to children from 8 to 12 years.

Even if the proposed starting conditions were raised, the judge could lower them if the defense produced a convincing mitigation, or if there were aggravating features of the crime raising them. .

Hudgell hopes the government will go further and introduce child abuse records. This will allow police and social services to track criminals and keep them away from children even after they are released from prison.

In April, prosecutor Ed Brown QC, who won two separate convictions against two men who murdered young children earlier this year, told The Epoch Times that documenting child cruelty was a “good idea.” He said there is

In 2019, James Moore served just four years in prison for child abuse after forcing his 12-year-old son to take the heroin substitute methadone.

PA Media contributed to this report.

Chris Summers


Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.

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