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Child abuse victim 'should not be treated as contributor'

Lord Justice Treacy said it was "coincidental" that the Hall and Savile cases emerged while new sentencing guidelines for child sex abusers and rapists was being worked on.

The new guidance will see the removal of "ostensible consent" - the idea that a child over 13 can agree to sex.

Read: Tougher sentences for grooming and online offences

Lord Justice Treacy acknowledged that "perhaps we should have" been quicker to recognise that children in sex cases should always be treated as victims rather than being involved in contributing to the crime. Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today Programme, he said:

We are sending out a very strong message that the focus is on what the offender did and what his motivation was and that the child victim should not be treated as contributing to the offence.

Tougher sentences for sex crimes met with praise

Tougher sentencing guidelines for sex offenders have been met with praise by children's campaigners.

The NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless praised the removal of "ostensible consent", the idea a child over the age of 13 can consent to sex, as "a step in the right direction".

It is important sentencing reflects the severe damage caused by highly manipulative and devious sex offenders, who may use positions of trust or celebrity status to target children.

Technology is playing a part in the way offenders seek out and groom children....It is right the guidelines reflect the harm caused and the people who cause this misery feel the full weight of the law.

The outdated view children can in some way be complicit in their abuse must be stamped out. The new guidance is a step in the right direction towards addressing this terrible myth.

– NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless


Tougher sentences for grooming and online offences

Sex offenders will have no protection if they sleep with a child over the age of 13 and claimed they consented, according to new sentencing guidelines.

They see the removal of "ostensible consent" - the idea a child over the age of 13 can agree to sex - while greater emphasis will be placed on grooming by individuals and gangs.

According to the new guidelines:

  • A new term has been spawned to take the effect of technology into account. An aggravating factor is "recording the crime", as filming and photographing victims has become more common.
  • Offending committed remotely, such as via a webcam, is also included.
  • Judges will also have to take into account aspects such as offenders lying about their age, grooming via social media or asking children to share indecent photos of themselves.

Sex-offending celebrities to be 'made example of'

New sentencing guidelines could include tougher penalties for celebrities who commit sex crimes in order to make an example of them, the Sentencing Council has said.

Lost Prophets front man Ian Watkins. Credit: Police Handout

The star's past behaviour may also work against them as "good character" may be seen as a means to commit a predatory sexual offence, the Sentencing Council said.

In practice, this means in the future the likes of disgraced Lost Prophets front man Ian Watkins, who used his fame to commit crimes against women and children, could receive more severe sentences.

The new guidelines place more emphasis on the long-term, psychological impact on the victims and cover over 50 offences, including rape, child sex offences and trafficking.

Sentencing Council chairman Lord Justice Treacy said: "This guideline will make real changes to the way offenders are sentenced for these very serious, sensitive and complex offences."

"It will help judges and magistrates sentence in a way which protects our communities from this kind of offending and the suffering it causes."

Home Office 'loophole' sees sex suspects' DNA deleted

Yvette Cooper said Theresa May's actions show she has "not taken seriously enough the risks to rape convictions and crime from her policy." Credit: Chris Ison/PA Wire

The Home Office has been accused of "shocking incompetence" for leaving a legal loophole that prevents police from holding the DNA profiles of thousands of suspected sex offenders.

From October, police in England and Wales will be banned from indefinitely holding genetic information on people arrested on suspicion of sexual and violent crimes once they have been released without charge.

Police will be given the right to apply for data to be held for longer, the BBC reported.

But with this appeal process not yet in place, Labour said many forces are already following government directives to delete records ahead of the change of law.

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said: "Theresa May's failure to prevent and deal with this incompetence shows she has not taken seriously enough the risks to rape convictions and crime from her policy."

The Home Office said: "Forces will be able to retain DNA from someone arrested and not charged for up to three years, but only with permission from the biometrics commissioner. And all DNA samples taken by police are checked against the national database before deletion."

Splitting up probation for offenders a 'risk to public'

Splitting up offenders between the public and private sector according to risk threatens public protection.

Offenders are generally not a compliant, problem free, group of people. They disproportionately suffer from mental illness, are four times more likely than the general population to misuse drugs and are 10 times more likely to have been in care.

They need to be supervised by experienced staff who can motivate them and properly assess risk.

– National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) general secretary Harry Fletcher


Private contractors to supervise criminals under new government reform

More than 50 cases have been pulled together by the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) after it approached members from across the country to provide examples of "complicated" medium risk sex offenders.

Among the offenders who would be transferred to the private sector under Justice Secretary Chris Grayling's shake-up of rehabilitation, are a 32-year-old repeat offender in Greater Manchester who was convicted for violence against a child.

The dossier includes cases of child abuse, harassment by the internet, intent to cause grievous bodily harm, unlawful wounding and instances of repeated domestic violence.

Plan to privatise probation service

Some 2,300 sex offenders will be among the criminals whose supervision is outsourced to private contractors under government reforms to probation, it was claimed.

Around 3,200 gang members, 8,400 people convicted of domestic violence and 15,900 robbery cases are also among the "medium risk" offenders set for private supervision, the National Association of Probation Officers (Napo) said.

The public will be put at risk if such offenders are taken out of the care of the public sector and transferred to private firms such as G4S and Serco, the union said.

Speaking yesterday, Napo general secretary Harry Fletcher said: "The Government's plans are both chaotic and dangerous."

Downing Street: 'Lie detector pilots for freed sex offenders a success'

A Downing Street source has said today that pilot schemes using lie detectors to manage sex offenders in the community have been a "success". The source said:

It's vital that we protect the public from serious sex offenders. That's why the conditions after they leave prison need to be both strict and rigorously enforced.

The pilot schemes using lie detectors to manage offenders in the community have been a success.

So now we're looking at how it could be rolled out to provide probation officers with more information to manage the most serious sex offenders.

Lie detector pilots found twice as many offenders admitting contact with victim

Serial sex offenders will be made to take lie detector tests on their release from jail, it has emerged. It follows a series of pilots launched by Labour in April 2009 that ran until October 2011 in the East and West Midlands.

Lie detector tests for freed sex offenders. Credit: Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

It found offenders on lie detectors made twice as many admissions about contacting victims or entering an exclusion zone than without.

Offenders also reported that the tests helped them to better manage their own behaviour, according to the government.

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