Tougher sex attack sentencing guidelines proposed

 

Sentences for rapists and sex attackers should be brought up to date with advances in technology and tactics used by offenders, according to draft guidelines released today.

Judges are being urged by the Sentencing Council to take into account the psychological and long-term effects on victims, as well considering new factors such as filming or photographing a rape, when deciding on punishments.

A tougher maximum sentence of 19 years should be given for "one-off" rapes, a limit currently only available for those who attack the the same victim over a course of time or rape multiple victims, the guidelines said.

The changes, which are under a 14-week public consultation, are designed to make sure paedophiles, people-traffickers and rapists who operate alone or in gangs are dealt with better in courts in England and Wales.

Sentencing Council member Lord Justice Treacy said: "We're improving guidance for courts to help them deal with these incredibly complex, sensitive and serious offences.

"The perspective of victims is central to the council's considerations. We want to ensure sentences reflect everything the victim has been through and what the offender has done.

"We are looking at the whole context, not just the physical offence but also the tactics employed by offenders like grooming activity, the targeting of vulnerable victims or abuse of a position of trust.

"No one wants more people becoming victims, so protecting the public is a vital part of our proposals, whether this is by jailing offenders or through rigorous treatment to stop them reoffending.

"This is a consultation: we want views on this extremely important subject."

Judges are asked to take into account factors such as stalking and previous abuse by offenders, and the targeting of vulnerable victims such as those in care.

The council said the review of the guidelines has come about because the nature of offending has changed. There is now a greater understanding of how perpetrators use technology in offences involving indecent images of children and in cases of sexual exploitation and child grooming.

"The guidelines reflect these developments so they cover the ways these crimes are committed today," the council said.

For rape, the new guidelines are designed take a broader approach covering a range of scenarios, and to recognise not just the stereotypical "stranger rapes" but to take into account that most rapes are carried out by someone the victim knows, and that many occur within families.

The council said the current guidelines for sexual assault take "too narrow an approach", and focus too much on the nature of the physical activity done by the offender.

It called for fear and intimidation to be taken into account, so an offence would be more serious if violence was threatened or threatening or violent sexual language was used.

For child sex offences the council said it wanted to increase the focus on the behaviour of offenders, how children may have been groomed or exploited, and whether offenders abused a position of trust.

It also said factors such as the use of alcohol or drugs to facilitate the offence and the use of gifts or bribes to coerce a victim should be taken into account.

The guidelines say paedophiles operating in rings or those who abuse a position of trust to create images or videos should be given tougher sentences, and called for changes in the way images are classified to aid investigators.

For exploitation and trafficking offences, the council said it wanted to make sure the "big players" get the longest sentences and only those very low down in any operation would avoid jail.

It said offences involving children were "particularly heinous", and proposed even those with a low level involvement in such an offence should be jailed.

People have been asked to respond to the guidance, which covers 54 "varied offences", by going to www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk.

PA

News
A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
science
News
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Extras
indybest
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Travel
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
travel
Arts and Entertainment
music
Sport
football
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home