The fact that Stuart Hall’s case has been referred to the Court of Appeal by the Attorney General is at least reassuring but still illustrates the imbalance in sentencing that frequently occurs up and down the country when we look at offences against children.
The teacher who ran away with his 15 year old pupil following their affair quite rightly abused his trust as a school teacher and should have been punished. Interestingly if this event had occurred in most other European countries and he hadn’t been the girl’s teacher their relationship may well have been legal. He received more than 5 years in prison for this, whereas Stuart Hall who had 14 counts of abuse found against him, including offences against 9 year old children, only received a 15 month prison sentence.
Some people have said that as he is in his mid 80s his age should be taken into consideration. I totally disagree. Why should we take his age into consideration when he had no consideration for the ages of the children he molested.
It was also said that he only could be sentenced with the tariff that existed at the time of the offences in the 1970s. However my understanding is that he was sentenced concurrently for each offence as opposed to consecutively which would have greatly increased the length of sentence if the judge had been so minded.
You can’t help thinking that celebrity still has influence. Many people are now saying that Jimmy Savile made them uneasy and suspicious but they couldn’t believe that somebody in the public eye like that could be such an indiscriminate, serial abuser.
Lets at least try and get balance for all as well as common sense when it comes to severity of offending.
Sometimes it almost makes the victims, who have been brave enough to come forward, despair and wonder if their pain and effort was worth it.
Again I would call for a national commission that can rebalance how we deal with these offences and how we deal with crimes against children.by
Sadly, my experience of our courts is that too often they fail to understand the impact on victims and so they fail to respond appropriately and sentencing varies greatly. However, there are signs that the government is starting to recognise this and moves are afoot e.g. significant changes to how children’s evidence is heard.
Away from the courts, I recently wrote to Michael Gove expressing my concerns that one of his education panels had cleared a teacher cautioned for possessing indecent images of children to work with children again. I suggested that the panel had no appreciation of risk and that its decision was just plain wrong. Michael Gove wrote back to me saying that.in the light of the Bettley case he believed current guidance for panels is “not fit for purpose” and that his department was urgently examining how to make changes.
From little acorns, they say. Perhaps our legislators are slowly seeing the light.