Sunday, 21 July 2013
CSA Guidelines - An Open Question.
I have two queries relating to CSA (Child sexual Abuse) which I would be very grateful if you could answer for me.
My first query is regarding Sex Offenders treatment programmes and length of sentences.
There seems to be a lot of cases recently where instead of receiving a custodial sentence, offenders are given a suspended sentence so that they can attend a sex offenders treatment programme. The reason given, nine out of ten times, is that the sentence that they would have been given would have been too short, with no hopes of starting such a programme. An example of this is given below:
I am confused on two different things with this.
Firstly, these "sentences" seem to be far too lenient. We are talking here about paedophiles, who by their nature have a healthy interest in children, enough to either go online and look for these images of child sexual exploitation and child abuse/rape, or to go out and physically abuse. By committing such crimes, getting caught and being sentenced, the guidelines as per the below
should all be considered and adhered to. In particular, the following two:
"The Punishment of Offenders" and "The protection of the public". In the cases where offenders are given suspended sentences and are able to walk freely from court on the understanding that they attend a treatment programme, I find it very difficult to accept that the said offender has been punished and would not still pose a risk to children.
Secondly, why is there not the option to complete the Treatment Programme inside prison? If the programme is run over a year, 2 or even 3, then they both have to attend (as they are inside), and the public can be satisfied that "justice has been done" and they have been rightly punished. If current guidelines do not allow a longer sentence for those who need such a programme, why can it not be reviewed so that it does?
My second query, which I am equally perplexed with, is regarding the challenging of "unduly lenient sentences". Having used this on quite a few occasions, of which several have been recalled by the AG, there were some where I was informed that "Although in certain circumstances the Attorney General does have the power to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal if he considers that it is unduly lenient, the power only applies to a limited number of offences. It does not apply to the offences in this case which, we understand, concern making indecent images of children. This means that it is not possible for the Attorney General to ask the Court of Appeal to look at the sentence in this case"
Please can you let me know why this is precisely - I have tried to find out but to no avail so far. The first time I challenged this was for someone who had downloaded 94,000 Indecent Images and Films, with them all being a mixture of 1 to 5 on the scale, and he only received a twelve month suspended sentence, which I find to be far too lenient. Any offences involving any sort of child sexual abuse should result in a custodial sentence, and if it doesn't then I believe that we have the right to challenge this. It seems somewhat bizarre how the AG can refer some CSA crimes, but not others, when they are equally as serious.
I am asking this as an "open question" on my blog, and would be grateful if you would allow me to share your reply.