Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sex Offenders Register

Today Theresa May the Home Secretary gave a statement to Parliament on a Supreme Court ruling that those sentenced to 30 months or more, and who are listed on the Sex Offenders Register for life should be allowed to appeal that decision.  May said that "Public Protection must come first" and that the Government were "appalled" at the decision of the Supreme Court and the Government would do the absolute minimum to comply.

On Monday I was at a meeting with Police officers, Forensic Medical Examiners, Paediatricians, Counsellors, Crown Prosecution Service, and Judge Michael Farmer QC to discuss serious sexual offending in North Wales and the impact the SARC Amethyst Centre has made for victims in North Wales.  Once of the concerns expressed by HHJ Farmer QC was the ridiculously low sentences given to sex offenders and in particular those in possession of pornographic images of children.  Many victims of sex offenders are affected for the rest of their lives by the actions of their abusers.  This is a life sentence imposed by an abuser without any appeal for the victim of abuse.

As the SARC conference made clear, although there is an arrest rate of approx 96% by North Wales police, the conviction rate is 46%.  Also highlighted was the fact that only 11% of sexual assaults are actually reported according to information from the British Crime Survey.  I am delighted that the Government is going to tighten 4 loopholes in the Sex Offenders Register to ensure that public protection is a key priority.  The impact in the Court system is likely to be that offenders at risk of a sentence of 30 months or more, are likely to  fight their cases.  The CPS has come a long way in ensuring that victims do not have to go into Court and face their abusers with video link and screens available to victims, and changes in evidence rules which permit previous allegations to rebut defences of "consent" have gone a long way to improve the conviction rate......but there is alot further to go and the steps announced by the Home Secretary today in closing the current loopholes will help protect the public from predatory sex offenders.