Under a proposed shake up of sentencing guidelines, child sex offenders who have been found to have the intent to commit an offence but are caught before this is carried out, could face up to 14 years in prison.

A consultation was launched by the Sentencing Council in May and is set to conclude on the 13th August, bringing in harsher punishments for child sex offenders who are caught before they abuse minors.

Every year, significant numbers of sexual predators are caught through police sting operations and citizens groups posing as minors online, or as adults offering to traffic children for the purposes of abuse.

In more serious cases, some are found to be communicating with real children, yet they are caught before any abuse can be carried out.

Despite the gravity of these offences, current sentencing guidelines view them as ‘low’ harm.

Consequently, such offenders receive significantly lesser punishments than those who carried out an attack, regardless of their intention and the potential risk that this poses to minors.

However, proposals are set to amend the crimes of arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sexual offence and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

If these offences are amended as planned, they would be treated with the same level of gravity regardless of whether a child was involved.

Sentencing is set to be based upon what a defendant intended to do to a child, although it may be adjusted dependant on the specific facts of the case.

Council Member Lord Justice Fulford said,

the changes we are proposing today will make sure that the courts give proper weight to the harm intended by those who commit offences against children.

When an offender intends sexual activity with a child, that must be reflected in the sentence imposed.

This is part of a wider abuse crackdown, under which the government aims to further protect children and build safer communities. The government is also moving to close a controversial legal loophole, whereby sports coaches and religious leaders can currently legally have sex with 16- and 17-year olds, posing opportunity for abuse of power.

Although these reforms are encouraging, instances of sexual abuse against minors are far too common and will not cease to continue. Thankfully, support is available for survivors. This may be in the form of counselling and tailored treatment, or prosecution may be possible.

Survivors of abuse may also wish to contact solicitors, who will pursue a civil claim for them. Victims of abuse may be entitled to Criminal Injuries Compensation Award (a government funded body for the victims of blameless crimes) and may potentially be able to present a claim directly against a Local Authority or organisation.

How Farleys Can Help

Farleys Solicitors represent hundreds of victims who have suffered horrific sexual abuse. Though we understand that no amount of financial compensation can undo the abuse that has been suffered, pursuing a claim can often help to bring closure to survivors.

If you or a loved one has been affected by sexual abuse, we are here to help. Please contact our dedicated team on 0330 134 6340, who will deal with your matter with the utmost respect, confidentiality and integrity. Alternatively, you can send us an email or chat to us through the online chat below.