A piece in yesterday’s Telegraph:
Proposals would mean tougher jail terms for offenders even if they were intercepted in a sting operation before engaging in sexual activity
Child sex offenders will face longer sentences under plans to punish them for their intentions.
The sentencing council has proposed that offenders who are caught before committing a sex attack should face tougher jail terms depending on the severity of the crime they intended to commit.
This would mean longer sentences for offenders even if they were intercepted by police or in a sting operation before they could engage in any sexual activity.
Previous guidelines from 2013 had been interpreted in some cases to allow lower sentences where there was no physical assault or meant that the absence of actual harm to the child was treated as a mitigating factor.
However, Justice Minister Chris Philp said: “Vile predators who seek to sexually abuse children deserve punishments that reflect the true severity of their crimes, including the harm intended.”
Lord Justice Fulford, a sentencing council member, said: “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.”
The maximum sentence for arranging or facilitating a child sex offence is 14 years in jail. According to the guidelines, the length of time in jail could initially range from four to 10 years for the worst “category 1” crimes with a starting point of five years.
For less serious “category 3” sex offences, it could start at two years but range from a community service order up to a three year prison term.
“The court should identify the category of harm on the basis of the sexual activity the offender intended, and then apply a downward adjustment at step two to reflect the fact that no or lesser harm actually resulted,” said the council advice.
It could mean a paedophile who planned a serious sex attack but was caught could spend longer in jail than another sex offender who engaged in “relatively less serious sexual activity”.
The council also ruled that offences involving children abused overseas – often through paedophiles commissioning crimes over the internet – should be treated as seriously as if they were in the UK.
For historic sex crimes, the council proposed that an offender should face the maximum sentence which would have applied at the time they committed the offence.
The only exception would be where the maximum sentence had since been reduced, which would mean courts would have to apply the lower maximum jail term.
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