Attitudes to sentencing sexual offences

Document type
NcNaughten Nicholls, Carol; Mitchell, Martin; Simpson, Ian
Sentencing Council
Date of publication
1 March 2012
Sentencing Council research series; 01/12
Criminal Justice Services, Offenders
Social welfare
Material type

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This study consulted with members of the public and victims/survivors on their awareness and views of sentencing sex offences. The research involved 12 focus groups with the general public across England and Wales, and interviews with 46 victim/survivors of sexual offences or their parents/carers. Victims/survivors said that the long term harm of sexual offences included psychological distress or post -traumatic stress disorder, the inability to work or form relationships. Sexual offences directly harmed a wide circle of people, for example, the parents of children who have been abused. Victim/survivors noted that rape had a life-long impact on victims and in this context could warrant a life sentence for the offender.The general public widely supported custodial sentences for sex offences. There were mixed views about the efficacy and appropriateness of treatment as a sentencing option for sexual offences. Restriction orders were strongly supported, but only as an additional component following release after a custodial sentence.

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