Child cruelty 'loophole' must be closed, Sussex MPs say

The proposed bill would increase sentences for those convicted of child cruelty
The proposed bill would increase sentences for those convicted of child cruelty

Sick individuals who inflict horrible injuries on children currently benefit from a ‘loophole’ in the law that needs to be closed, according to a Sussex MP.

Crawley MP Henry Smith is one of two Sussex MPs supporting a motion to increase the maximum punishment for ‘absolutely horrid’ offences of child cruelty to life imprisonment.

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, is one of those supporting the proposed bill

Henry Smith, MP for Crawley, is one of those supporting the proposed bill

A bill proposed by Tonbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat to boost the maximum sentence has passed its first reading in the House of Commons.

Mr Smith said: “In some quite chilling cases of child cruelty often it is only GBH that those responsible have been tried for and that only has a maximum sentence of 10 years.

“There is an unintentional gap in the law. In those cases of absolutely horrid child cruelty it is important that the sentencing in law reflects the seriousness of those crimes.”

The current maximum sentence for cruelty to a child is 10 years in prison, of which only half is usually served in custody.

The bill passed its first reading in the House of Commons earlier this month and is being co-sponsored by several MPs including Mr Smith and East Worthing and Shoreham MP Tim Loughton.

Mr Smith added: “What I hope is the government will agree with the provision and include them as a part of an update to some bill.”