The Health and Safety (Offences) Act 2008 received Royal Assent on 16 October 2008 and will come into force in January 2009. The Act will increase the penalties available in the magistrates court for breach of health and safety regulations from £5,000 to £20,000 and the range of offences for which an individual can be imprisoned has also been broadened. The new Act will also make certain offences, which are currently triable only in the magistrates court, triable in either the magistrates or the crown court.

The Department for Work and Pensions Minister, Lord MacKenzie, commented: “… by extending the £20,000 maximum fine to the lower courts and making imprisonment an option, more cases will be resolved in the lower courts and justice will be faster, less costly and more efficient.”