Petition Higher sentences for paedophiles.

The people of Jersey are sick and tired of seeing paedophiles either found guilty of abusing, or attempting to abuse, our children being handed lenient prison sentences (if any prison sentence) by the Jersey courts.

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We therefore demand the States of Jersey implement mandatory minimum prison terms for such offences, starting from a minimum of 3 years and change the signing of the Sex Offenders Register to life.

This is the only way we can deter paedophiles from harming our children and partaking in the vile downloading of indecent images and videos of children online.

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3,338 signatures

5,000

Ministers responded

This response was given on 1 February 2019

It is not common practice in Jersey to use legislation to set minimum prison terms. Further research is needed to establish if resources should be diverted to monitoring offenders for their whole life

It should be made absolutely and abundantly clear that all Ministers completely deplore the actions of paedophiles and the consequential harm that is caused by them to our children.

The Sexual Offences (Jersey) Law 2018, which came into force on 23rd November 2018 and consolidated most sexual offences into a single enactment, was prepared in order to meet the needs and expectations of the police, prosecutors, modern Jersey society and international standards.

The 2018 Law covers offences by adults against children aged 12 or younger (Articles 9 and 10 of the Law), offences by adults against children aged 13 to 15 (Articles 11 and 12), other offences against children aged 15 or younger (Articles 13. 14, 15, and 16). The 2018 Law also maintains the offences in relation to abuse of trust where an adult engages in sexual conduct with a person aged 16 or 17 (Articles 18, 19 and 20). The positions of trust have also been extended by the 2018 Law to include people involved in coaching children in sports or other activities.

In particular, it should also be noted that Article 15(4) of the 2018 Law created an additional offence in relation to the sexual grooming of a child. The previous offence in Article 15(1) addressed the situation where an adult communicates with a child and then travels to meet the child with the intention of committing an offence. The additional offence in Article 15(4) applies where an adult intentionally communicates (by any means, including online) with a child who is 15 or younger and the communication is sexual or intended to encourage a sexual communication in response. There is a defence where the person communicated with is 13 or older and the defendant reasonably believed the person was 16 years of age or older. This offence provides more comprehensive protection to children as it is now not necessary for the adult to have travelled to meet the child for the offence to be committed.

It is not common practice in Jersey to use legislation to set mandatory minimum prison terms for offences. Legislation usually refers to the maximum sentence that can be imposed for an offence. This is the case for the 2018 Sexual Offences Law and maximum sentences are set out throughout Articles 9 to 20. The maximum prison sentences have been set having regard to the nature of the behaviour giving rise to the offence and the penalties and range from liability to imprisonment for life to imprisonment for 5 years.

With these maximum sentences set, it is for the Courts, having considered a case and the associated evidence in full, to then make a decision as to the appropriate sentence to be applied. In doing so, the Court will take into account recommendations from the Attorney General or a Crown Advocate acting on the Attorney General’s behalf.

Ministers also note the further comments recently made by the Attorney General in response to this e petition, with regard to sentencing policy in Jersey, especially in relation to offences involving possession of and distribution of indecent images of children.

Once convicted, offenders are placed on the sex offenders register, allowing the relevant authorities to keep track of their whereabouts and providing greater powers to enter and search their premises. In contrast to the position in England and Wales, offenders are not automatically removed from the register at the end of the period, but must make a public application to be removed which is then determined by the Court.

The Jersey Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (JMAPPA) have been in operation for 8 years since 2011 following the introduction of the Sex Offenders (Jersey) Law 2010. Partnership agencies work together through this mechanism in order to work with and support both sex and violent offenders, thereby protecting local communities. These arrangements have proved highly effective since introduction with year on year very low reoffending annually – almost exclusively for lower level unrelated offending. On average annually during the last 8 years, just 6 offenders being managed through these arrangements have re-offended out of an annual average of 56 offenders (out of a current total of 140 registered sex offenders). The Minister publishes and tables an annual report in the States on these arrangements.

In terms of the benefits of lifelong registration, further research would be needed to establish if resources should be diverted to monitoring offenders for their whole life, keeping in mind that there will likely be circumstances where an individual has not reoffended in decades and may no longer pose a threat to the public.

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At 5,000 signatures, this petition will be considered for debate in the States Assembly

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