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'Developmental harm' should be considered in child cruelty sentencing

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Judges would assess the developmental harm caused to a child when sentencing those convicted of child cruelty under new proposals published by the Sentencing Council.

The council is consulting on guidance for the offences of child cruelty, causing or allowing a child to die or suffer serious physical harm, and failing to protect a girl from the risk of female genital mutilation (FGM). 

The consultation paper states that psychological and physical harm are common factors across the council’s guidelines, which judges are used to interpreting. ‘Developmental harm is unique to this guideline but there are strong correlations between child abuse, particularly neglect, and developmental harm being caused to children,’ the paper says.

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