Recently, the UK sentencing council passed guidelines that will allow judges to impose longer sentences on child abusers that are caught in ‘fake sting’ operations. So, what does this mean for survivors and why has this change come about?
Well, in essence, previous guidelines had long been interpreted as indicating that in many cases, where a perpetrator was caught as part of a sting – the jail term would be lower because of the absence of an affected child. This led to multiple offenders seeking reduced jail-time under the claim that no child was hurt.
However, the new guidelines now cover the commission of a child sexual offence, even if no such offence took place. In layman’s terms, the offender can be prosecuted to the full extent of the law for the planning of an offence, even where no sexual activity takes place or there is no child victim.
If an offender is found to have planned the rape of a child under the age of 12, a maximum sentence of life imprisonment can be imposed. If an offender is found to have planned to incite a child into engaging in sexual abuse (even if the offence does not take place), a maximum jail sentence of 14 years can be given.
NAPAC welcomes this change as both a deterrent to potential offenders and an acknowledgement of the abhorrent nature and severity of planning such crimes.
Our CEO, Gabrielle Shaw, discussed these landmark changes on a recent episode of Woman’s Hour. Listen here from 39:00 onwards as Gabrielle gives her analysis on what these changes mean.