BAPM has written to the Sentencing Council in response to its consultation on Miscellaneous amendments to sentencing guidelines.
The letter concerned Question 17 in the consultation regarding adding a proposed new mitigating factor and expanded explanation relating to pregnancy.
In the letter BAPM write that "Whilst the new mitigating factor for pregnancy, childbirth and postnatal care is welcome, it is not nearly robust enough to meaningfully reduce the number of pregnant and postnatal women imprisoned and we suggest further clarification and guidance would be helpful."
The letter, signed by BAPM President Dr Eleri Adams and Staff Education and Wellbeing Lead Tamsyn Crane, asks the Sentencing Council to consider the following:
- Recognition that pregnancy is a significant risk factor for the health of both the mother and baby.
- Every pregnant person has a mandatory pre-sentencing report.
- The mitigating factor includes more than just women ‘on the cusp’ of custody facing a community order, but also to consider suspended sentences and include pregnancy as an ‘exceptional circumstance’ that can reduce mandatory minimum sentences.
- The relevant considerations when sentencing a pregnant/postnatal woman are expanded to include the established risks of custody, the mental health of the woman, the potential harm to the baby and the best interests of the child. We also call for these considerations to be mandatory (changing the language from ‘may consider’ to ‘must consider’).
- Clear guidance to manage sentencing is developed in line with other vulnerable groups.