Individuals in England and Wales found guilty of causing or allowing a child to die could now be handed a life sentence following a new law which comes into force today. Prior to the change in law, the maximum sentence available for these crimes was 14 years.

‘Tony’s Law’ which is included in the Police, Crime and Sentencing Act 2022, also raises the maximum penalty for causing serious harm to a child from 10 to 14 years.

The legislation was named after 7-year-old Tony Hudgell, who was battered by his birth parents as a baby and left with life-altering injuries. His abusers were given 10 years in jail in 2018, which was the maximum sentence available at the time.

Child rights campaigners and lawyers have welcomed the move to enable tougher sentencing for serious cases of violence against children, but also warned the new measures were unlikely to deter abusers and could also create problems in cases where the cause of injury to a child is not easy to determine.