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Review of sentencing for sexual offences

A long overdue review in relation to the punishment of sexual offenders has been announced by the Sentencing Council who are responsible for such matters.

The guidelines cover over 50 different offences of sexual assault and rape and are intended to increase the consideration of how assault has mentally impacted upon the victim as well as considering the ‘on the spot’ injuries sustained in the attack.

The guidelines also look at the motives and the background of the attack to take account of the rise in grooming and pre-mediated group abuse of an individual as well as targeting the vulnerable and young.

In addition there increases in the level of sentencing for such offences and emphasises the fact that victims are never responsible for their attacks and effectively removes the concept of ostensible consent; that is where a child over the age of 13 apparently agrees to sexual activity

Chairman of the Sentencing Council, 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.

“We have taken on board the views of victims, criminal justice professionals and the wider public to produce an approach to sentencing which people can understand and have confidence in. This approach will enable sentences that reflect what the victim has been through and take in a full profile of what the offender has done, such as grooming victims or abusing trust.

“No one wants more people falling victim to offenders who come before the courts, and public protection is central to this guideline, whether this is by jailing offenders or, where appropriate, imposing a rigorous treatment order and other restrictions to prevent re-offending.”

Full details of the new guidelines can be found here