For well over 20 years there has been greater recognition of the crimes of paedophiles and the harm, sometimes lifelong, they can cause to children by their evil conduct. Gone are the days when society would turn a blind eye and deaf ear to the complaints of children. Gone are the days when, after complaining, children would be told to stop telling lies. Gone are the days when paedophiles are able to carry out their assaults without risk of sanction.
The criminal law has adapted, significantly, in the last couple of decades to reflect these terrible crimes, with increased sentences. Indeed, the government announced only recently their intention to increase sentences for such offences even further. Sex offenders will spend longer in jail.
This month a consultation has been launched by the Sentencing Council with a view to providing further guidance to the criminal courts when sentencing paedophiles where a child has not come to harm. The present position is that offenders, who make unsuccessful contact with children, argue for reduced sentences on the basis that the child did not come to any harm. The reason why those children are saved is due to undercover police operations, known as stings, and voluntary groups who ensnare paedophiles, (sometimes called “paedophile hunters”) by pretending to be children when they are approached online by the paedophiles.
In 2020 some guidance was provided to the courts when sentencing paedophiles who do not cause harm. As a follow-up to that, the sentencing Council is now carrying out a consultation over the course of three months to determine what further guidelines should be provided to sentencing judges where no sexual activity has taken place.
Lord Justice Fulford, a member of the Sentencing Council, said: "The changes we are proposing today will make sure the courts give the proper weight to the harm intended by those who commit offences against children.
"When an offender intends sexual activity with a child, that must be reflected in the sentence imposed, even where that activity does not ultimately take place."
If the proposals in the consultation paper become law, it will mean that all paedophiles who are found guilty of arranging a sexual offence with a child, or inciting a child to participate in abuse, irrespective of whether harm was caused, could face longer sentences. Sentences will be determined by the intent of the paedophile, rather than if a child was abused.
This is good news for all those who seek to seek to deter paedophiles and to ensure that those who are found guilty of improper conduct receive tougher sentences.
Sadly, there will always be those individuals who manage to evade detection and cause harm to children by their sexual abuse. If you would like advice on what action can be taken to help your child who has been sexually abused, contact us for a free, confidential, initial consultation. Call us today on 0333 323 1638, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill in our online form