New Sex Offence Sentencing Guidelines

By April 2014 new sentencing guidelines will come into force which will mean that courts will have to take into account in more depth the longer term effects that sexual offences have on victims.

The new guidelines which will be published by the Sentencing Council are intended to bring “significant changes” to how sexual offences are considered by the court. The new guidelines will replace the ones that were made by the Sentencing Guidelines Council in 2003 following the Sexual Offences Act 2003. The new guidelines are set to cover more than 50 sexual offences including rape, voyeurism and child sex offences including offences involving making indecent images.

Changes to the guidelines will include ensuring that the previous “good character” of offenders will be used as an aggravating factor especially if they have used that “good character” to assist them in their offending such as; getting a child to trust them for example.

Lord Justice Treacy, chairman of the Sentencing Council, said: “This approach will enable sentences that reflect what the victim has been through and take in a full profile of what the offender has done, such as grooming victims or abusing trust”.

It is believed that some of the changes to the guidelines will include;

  • allowing proper consideration of the vulnerability of the victim such as through age, disability, background or physical and emotional abuse;
  • broadening the wording of various aggravating factors to ensure they cover a greater range of offending;
  • adding new aggravating factors;
  • increasing some of the sentencing ranges for particular offences such as sexual assault and trafficking offences.

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