Justice, the renowned human rights organisation, has published a significant report that examines the prosecution of sexual offences, and in some areas calls for a radical overhaul.
Among the authors of the report is Judge Peter Rook QC, a senior Judge at the Central Criminal Court (‘Old Bailey’) and considered an expert authority on this area of law.
Two of the areas examined were preventing and reducing offending. Turning its attention to those who view indecent images of children (‘IIOC’), the report recommended as follows:
“Police-led diversion schemes have recently been developed. These seek to address the factors that may lead to offending behaviour without the need for prosecution. We have been inspired by the success of these programmes to develop our own proposal for a Conditional Diversion Scheme, for individuals who have viewed IIOC. We consider that this scheme will provide the correct intervention to these individuals as quickly as possible, helping to both save prosecution and court resources and ensure reoffending rates remain low. Our proposed scheme has been developed together with experts in the field and we consider it to be a sensible response to the volume of reports that the police receive each month.”
The authors also had much to say concerning rehabilitative programmes and the effect of protective/preventative orders:
“When it comes to sentencing, this working party believes that lessons should be learned from the skills-based approach to rehabilitation, which has shown this to be an effective way to reduce reoffending rates. There should be a shift in focus to rehabilitation and more flexibility should be given to sentencers to allow them to make suitable orders that allow the individual to rehabilitate effectively. This is especially the case for Sexual Harm Prevention Orders, where we have heard that overly restrictive orders can isolate an individual from society once released from prison, hindering them from getting their lives back on track and risking further offending.”
Our work brings us into contact with a great many people who commit offences at all level of seriousness, and of course, many that have committed no crime at all. We know that criminal investigation and proceedings can have a devastating effect on those accused and their wider families.
In all cases, we work sensitively and diligently to prepare a robust defence case when that is required and to work hard with others to ensure outcomes that work for our clients and the wider community when it comes to sentencing.
We welcome this report and its mature examination of such complex societal issues.
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