17 May 2022
Revised child sexual offences sentencing guidelines published
The Council has published revised sentencing guidelines for child sexual offences where no child exists or is harmed. The revised guidelines clarify how courts in England and Wales should sentence offenders convicted of these offences.
The changes, which will come into effect on 31 May 2022, stipulate how judges and magistrates should base the sentence they impose on the intended sexual harm to a child, whether or not a child victim existed or sexual activity took place, for example in cases where the offender was arrested following a ”sting” operation by the police.
Current sexual offences guidelines, published in 2013, had been interpreted in some cases to mean that harm should be considered low in these cases, or had placed the absence of actual harm to a child as a mitigating factor in cases where sexual activity was incited but did not actually occur.
In addition, the Council has published a new guideline for the offence of sexual communication with a child (s15A of the Sexual Offences Act). Offenders face a maximum penalty of two years in prison for sharing images, causing psychological harm, abuse of trust or the use of threats. This guideline will come into effect on 1 July 2022.