A shake-up of sentencing guidance for sex offenders is another step towards putting victims at the centre of the criminal justice process, Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner says.
Tony Lloyd welcomes the revised guidelines, announced by the Sentencing Council today, that mean sentences will reflect the behaviour and motivation of offenders, including jail terms for those who’ve abused their position of power.
Grooming activity, lies about ages and whether the offence has been filmed may also be considered by judges.
The guidelines, which come into force in April 2014, cover more than 50 offences and aims to ensure appropriate and consistent sentences are given to offenders. It also increases the sentencing starting point for some offences, for example, rape will have a starting point of 15 years, instead of eight years.
“The overhaul of sentencing guidelines is another step towards putting victims at the heart of what we do, and shows that criminal justice agencies are listening, and importantly, acting on the needs of victims.” said Tony.
“As highlighted in the cases of Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall, there are some offenders who abuse their position of power to gain the trust of victims, only to breach that trust in the most horrific way and it’s absolutely right that the behaviour of the offender, along with the lasting impact on the victim is taken into account by the courts.”
The guidelines also remove a child sex offence, previously labelled as involving ‘ostensible consent’ – that is, where a child over 13 has apparently agreed to sexual activity.
“It’s simply wrong to imply that any child can fully consent to being sexually exploited and I’m pleased to see that the Sentencing Council has recognised this.
“It’s impossible to imagine the torment of sex abuse victims and it is an incredibly brave step to come forward. The criminal justice system has a duty to support victims through the entire court process and act in their interests, not the offenders’. This is the only way we can give more victims the confidence to speak out, knowing that they will be taken seriously and treated sensitively.”