THIS IS AN ARCHIVED NEWS RELEASE FROM GMPCC.ORG.UK
A new offence of “sexual communication with a child” will come into effect on 3 April 2017, a move that will see groomers facing up to two years in prison and being automatically placed on the sex offenders register.
Despite the legislation being passed in March 2015, it has taken until now for the government to issue the commencement order that criminal justice agencies need to enforce the new law. A delay that some believe has led to thousands of missed opportunities for prosecuting offenders.
Greater Manchester Mayor and Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd said:
“I’m glad that the law has caught up with the digital world to bring child abusers to justice. It will enable police and other agencies to intervene much earlier to bring these sexual predators to justice.
“But questions must be asked as to why on earth it took two whole years for this law to be enforced. This is simply unacceptable. The government must make sure that processes and paper trails do not stand in the way of protecting our children.”
Whether it’s online, email, texting, social media or in games, the new law means that over 18s found to be communicating with under 16s using sexual content or to elicit a sexual response will go on the sex offenders register and face two years in jail.
Justice Secretary Liz Truss has also announced measures that will give rape victims the option to pre-record their evidence on tape before trials.
Victims will still be cross-examined, but this will be done outside the court room, away from their attacker. The video can then be played back in court for the benefit of the jury.
“Anything that criminal justice agencies can do to improve processes for victims must be welcomed, and I would urge the government to continue doing all they can to this end.
“Our justice system is quite rightly built around the idea of fair trials; that everyone is to be presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. These values are to be applauded, but somewhere along the line victims have been left behind. This new way of working better meets victims’ needs.”
Pilot schemes showed that victims found it easier to recall and give their evidence, and because defendants were more likely to plead guilty when faced with strong evidence against them, fewer trials have been needed. This has led to financial savings and significantly reduced stress and anguish for victims.