Anne Marie Waters
Sunday 23rd May 2021
In the Queen’s speech recently, the Government said it intends to increase sentences for sex offenders. Frankly, I don’t believe this will happen. The current maximum sentence for rape in the UK is life in prison. But that isn’t quite how it works in practice. The fact is that the strong sentence options are already there, but aren’t used. The courts already have the ability to impose real sentences but choose not to. In reality, sex offences are treated as little more than misdemeanours. This is why they keep happening, with near impunity. We live in a country where rapists and paedophiles are deemed of little importance. Or, more accurately, their victims are deemed of little importance.
I was absolutely horrified recently to read of a case from Worcester late last year. Callum Haycock was convicted of raping a 5 year old girl but received no jail time. Having been found guilty of this most disgusting of crimes, Haycock received a “3 year community order and 35 days rehabilitation” (whatever they are).
This is an outrage.
The girl’s mother said she “ran out of the court and slammed the door behind me, as I walked out of the court I just shouted ‘it’s a f***ing joke’. I see no justice for my daughter in this.”
She’s right, there is no justice for her daughter, there is no justice full stop where sex offences are concerned. The sentencing guidelines are, as this mother said, a f****ing joke.
According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), sentencing guidelines on rape are based on the judgement in Millberry and Others (2003) 2 Cr. App. R. (S) 31. It contains the following (and can be read in full here):
“For rape committed by an adult without any aggravating or mitigating features, a figure of five years should be taken as the starting point in a contested case. Where a rape is committed by two or more men acting together, or by a man who has broken into or otherwise gained access to a place where the victim is living, or by a person who is in a position of responsibility towards the victim, or by a person who abducts the victim and holds her captive, the starting point should be eight years.”
Let’s remember something. Even if someone is sentenced to five years, they are unlikely to serve it, but let’s also remember something else. When Matt Hancock was warning us about where we may go on holiday, he was happy to announce a TEN YEAR jail term for people who lied about their holiday destination. Ten years for lying about your holiday, five years for rape. No matter which arm is responsible – government or judiciary – this is the current state of UK justice and it stinks to high heaven. We are morally broken.
Back in 2011, the Daily Mail reported that 154 convicted rapists, who had been freed early, all went on to rape again. This was over a 5 year period and was announced at a time when the then government planned to reduce jail time served by rapists. At the time, Priti Patel, doing what Tories do and talking the talk, said ‘The public will be astonished and alarmed by these facts. This is more evidence that these people should get longer sentences to be kept off the streets.” Fast forward to 2020, Priti Patel is Home Secretary, and the rapist of a 5 year old gets no jail time at all.
It isn’t hard to find examples of rapists in the UK enjoying free rein. We know about the so-called ‘grooming gangs’ across the country. Despite the scandal at the time of the Jay Report in to rape gangs in Rotherham, this crime continues almost unimpeded.
In Rochdale, convicted rapists were free to roam the town despite having apparently been deported! Qari Abdul Rauf served just two and a half years in prison for his role in the rape scandal dramatised in the BBC drama Three Girls. Rauf and his fellow offenders were stripped of their British citizenship, but to this day, they remain free in the UK. What message does this send to British society?
In a recent Channel 4 documentary, police efforts to snare online paedophiles revealed that despite grooming children for sex, and meeting them, pitiful sentences were handed down. One such paedophile got a sentence of two years for meeting an underage girl (actually an undercover police officer) armed with sex toys and a hotel room.
In the notorious ‘Black Cab Rapist’ case, it was alleged that the police had ‘fed him a defence’ during interviewing. John Worboys is believed to have assaulted around 100 women having drugged them when they were passengers in his cab. In a recording of an interview, a police officer is heard saying:
“Forgive me for asking, but I’ve got to ask, because obviously we’ve got to investigate this matter.
“Is it a case of that she engaged in sexual activity with you to pay for her fare?’, to which he replies “Not at all.”
To this, lawyer Phillippa Kaufmann QC said “She [the police officer] is feeding him a defence – if sexual activity took place this was on the basis that NBV [the victim] was prostituting herself having not paid the fare.
“If they had actually done some work, they would have realised she did pay the fare. It makes plain that they just didn’t believe a word of it on her part.”
Worboys was convicted in 2009 of drugging and sexually assaulting 12 women and sentenced indefinitely for public protection, with a minimum term of eight years. EIGHT YEARS.
In another twist, male sex offenders can now ‘identify’ as female and be placed in women’s prisons. In 2018, prison governors warned that male sex offenders who identified as women posed a direct threat to female inmates. A Freedom of Information request at the time revealed:
- At least 34 male-born inmates are living as women in four specialist sex offender jails for men – Littlehey, Isle of Wight, Whatton and Stafford;
- A further ten prisoners may be housed at sex offender prisons Bure, Rye Hill and Ashfield;
- Governors of sex offender prisons say ‘all or most’ of their transgender inmates are seeking to move to women’s jails;
- In at least one prison, this group includes a prisoner convicted of multiple, separate rapes.
Despite this, it continues. Male rapists are still being housed in women’s prisons. There can only be one conclusion; rapists are more important than their victims, they have ‘rights’, victims don’t.
This is symptomatic of a lost society. We have lost sight of right and wrong and despite yet more rhetoric from the Tories, they’ve done nothing to change it, and they won’t.
Most decent people are horrified by sex offenders and yet life seems to be getting easier for them. It’s getting harder for their victims.
It’s a moral catastrophe and only complete political change can fix it. To be clear, rapists and paedophiles should be punished, seriously punished. The dial needs to be turned in the other direction and victims – and the public – must be protected. We must change our approach to sex offences completely and recognise their seriousness. We need justice. We need moral restoration. We need to fix the problems at the top. We need to hold police to account and force the judiciary to punish these offenders.
Until we do this, there will be no justice, and our system will remain “a f***ing joke”.
Anne Marie Waters
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