People guilty of the most serious cases of animal cruelty will receive tougher sentences under proposals unveiled today to ensure consistency in magistrates’ court guidance.

The Sentencing Council is revising guidelines for 27 ‘varied’ offences to ensure all magistrates use the same sentencing approach in ’summary only’ offences.

In animal cruelty cases, the council says it wants to ensure that the most serious cases lead to prison sentences and that the sentences are of an appropriate length.

The proposed changes would lead to fewer offenders falling into the most serious category of offending than is currently the case, but those who did would receive higher sentences than they do now.

The council also wants to ‘bring into line’ sentencing for two similar offences covered by section 127 of the Communications Act 2003.

These relate to messages that are ‘grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character such as indecent phone calls and emails’ and communications intended to cause ‘annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety’ including someone who ‘persistently makes silent phone calls’.

Guidelines are also being reviewed for school non-attendance, railway fare evasion and sexual activity in a public lavatory.

Sentencing Council member and magistrate Jill Gramann said:; ‘Our revision of the guidelines will ensure magistrates in England and Wales have clear guidance using a consistent approach to help them sentence fairly and proportionately.’

The consultation closes on 11 August.