Sexual offences are not being prosecuted

It’s come to light today that there have been at least 1,500 people cautioned for sex offences across England in the last year. This is going to be featured tonight on BBC Inside Out East Midlands, presented by Mary Rhodes.

Now the shocking thing for me, perhaps more than anything else, is that many of these cases are in relation to offences against children. Any sexual offence can have long term traumatic consequences for the victim no matter what their age and I hope that this is looked into carefully.

As someone however who’s been campaigning most of their working life to make life safer for children I find it particularly galling that the police have actually set themselves up as law enforcement officers and the judiciary in these cases with little or no thought for the messages they are sending out to others who are attracted to children sexually.  In certain cases that were discussed, the age of the perpetrator and the fact the case was historic were apparently cited as excuses. Personally I don’t care as it’s been shown over and over again that people who cross the line and offend against children are unlikely to be doing it for the first time and if they are only given a slap on the wrist they are unlikely to be stopped from doing it again.

One of the few exceptions where I would have sympathy would be if young teenagers were involved and perhaps the boy was only slightly older than the girl who was say only 14 or 15. We would normally have some understanding in the case like that and a degree of latitude would be allowed. For all other cases I can’t help thinking that the message going out to sex offenders receiving just a caution is that society doesn’t deem their behaviour as particularly serious and so there is some kind of tacit acceptance and intellectual validation of their activities.

There must be strong controls on sexual offences against children. The nearest description that I’ve come to over the years is that these offenders are addicted to their behaviour. With drink, drugs etc much of the harm is against themselves. With this kind of addiction another person is the victim (in this case a child). Therefore they will be addicts for life and there is no such thing as a cure. The only possible influence is control. Self control is important but can’t be relied on so there has to be societal control. So messages given out that minimise the impact of this, and somehow lighten society’s reaction to their behaviour, is hugely counter productive.

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