CALLS have been made for tougher sentencing of convicted child sex predators.
Politicians from the region have told the Free Press they think the rules used to sentence child sex abusers should be far more stringent.
It comes as the Sentencing Council is carrying out a consultation on its proposals for how guidance for courts on sexual offences should be brought up to date.
Earlier this month the Free Press carried a special report about child sex offences in Denbighshire, including a look at the sentences those convicted in the county in recent years had received.
“These examples show that in many cases we do have inadequate sentencing in this country,” said Clwyd South MP Susan Elan Jones.
“Sentencing is sometimes too short and there is not enough cohesion between the crime committed, the sentence obtained and the level of rehabilitation put in place as a result.”
She added: “I am also concerned about incidents where offenders are released on license and then re-offend, showing quite clearly that they should not have been released. More needs to be done to ensure that those finishing their sentence do not re-offend upon release.”
The draft changes to sentencing guidelines currently being considered aim to give more focus to the impact on victims. Covering a large number of offences including rape, child sex offences, indecent images of children, trafficking and voyeurism, the review proposes a variety of alterations to how offending is dealt with by the courts.
A spokesman for the Sentencing Council said: “The review of sentencing guidelines for sex offences has also come about because the nature of offending has changed with, for example, the increased use of technology in offences involving indecent images of children and the facilitation of sexual exploitation and grooming of children.
“The council also has an increased understanding of how offenders use technology to target children. The guidelines reflect these developments so they cover the ways these crimes are committed today.”
Clwyd West AM Darren Millar told the Free Press he supports strict sentencing for child sex offenders.
“These are grotesque crimes which rob children of their childhood,” he said.
“The consequences of paedophilia cause lifelong damage to its victims and so the perpetrators of such crimes should face tough sentences which reflect this.”
Clwyd South AM Ken Skates said he was looking forward to seeing the Sentencing Council’s final report.
“While criminal justice matters have not been devolved and, as such, remain the responsibility of the Westminster Government, I welcome the review announced by the Sentencing Council into the sentencing guidelines provided to the courts,” he said.
“Society has changed immeasurably in recent years, particularly with the developments in technology and it is important that sentencing guidelines recognise this.”
The main changes being proposed to the guidelines in relation to children are:
Child sex offences:
- increased sentences where adults abuse a position of trust or target a vulnerable child – such as those in care
- consideration when sentencing of factors that show the offender’s culpability, such as evidence of grooming, the use of alcohol or drugs to facilitate the offence, and the use of gifts or bribes to coerce the victim
- dealing with offences involving children under 13-years-old separately from those over 13
Indecent images of children
- the draft guideline suggests the introduction of the option of prison at every level of offence, so that sentencers can use this whenever they feel it is appropriate.
The review also looks at sex offences affecting adults including rape, sexual assault and trafficking.
Sentencing guidelines must be followed, unless a judge or magistrate feels it is not in the interests of justice to do so.
The consultation closes on March 14 and people can respond at www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk