Petition Increase minimum and maximum sentences for all sexual offences
I believe that the current sentence for people who have committed rape, who have groomed people or those who have sexually assaulted another member of the public is not long enough, and victims of these crimes deserve to get their justice.
A lot victims of these crimes do not come forward as they do not believe that the time that their offenders will receive is long enough, and I would like to bring this up as something that should be changed. Sexual assault, child sexual abuse, grooming and rape does not receive sufficient sentences, where as other offences with less significant harm to others does. I strongly believe that people who are victims of these above stated offences do not get the justice that they receive.
This response was given on 15 June 2021
We are committed to keeping people safe from all forms of sexual violence. Those found guilty of these horrendous crimes should receive sentences which reflect the seriousness of these offences.
The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment. In certain circumstances, where offenders are convicted of a repeat serious sexual offence, including rape, the law provides a minimum sentence of life imprisonment. In 2020 the average custodial sentence given to adult offenders for all rape offences was just over 10 years. Other sexual offences also carry high maximum penalties, with life imprisonment for other serious offences, including many against children.
Sentencing is entirely a matter for our independent courts, taking into account all the circumstances of each individual case. We have seen an overall increase of 13% in the average custodial sentence length (ACSL) handed down for sexual offences between 2010 and 2020. For example, the ACSL given to adult offenders for rape offences where the victim was 13 or over has increased by 19 months over the last decade.
The ACSL for rape of a child under 13 has increased from 105.3 months in 2010 to 135.7 months in 2020, with the ACSL for sexual assault of a child under 13 by penetration increasing by 9 months across the same period.
Last year we passed legislation to ensure that serious sexual and violent offenders receiving a standard determinate sentence (SDS) of over seven years serve two thirds of their sentence in custody, instead of half. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill will extend this change to a further cohort of offenders so that those sentenced to an SDS between 4 and 7 years for certain offences involving sexual or physical violence (where that offence attracts a maximum penalty of life), including rape, will serve two thirds of their sentence in custody.
The government keeps all criminal penalties under review, and we are determined to improve how the criminal justice system handles sexual violence.
We are taking action to improve outcomes for rape cases through our robust, end-to-end review of the criminal justice response to rape (the Rape Review). We commissioned this review in March 2019 to look at evidence from across the system – from reporting to the police to outcomes in court - in order to understand what is happening in cases of adult rape and serious sexual offences being charged, prosecuted and convicted in England and Wales. The review will be published later this year.
We have published a new Victims’ Code setting out 12 key rights for all victims of crime. But we know we must do more to ensure that these rights are properly delivered and that victims get the support they need.
The Victims’ Bill is an opportunity to transform the victim experience of the criminal justice system and beyond. The draft Bill will set expectations for the standard and availability of victim support.
We will consult on the Victims Bill later this year, following which the Government will publish a draft bill for pre-legislative scrutiny.
Ministry of Justice
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Other parliamentary business
MPs investigate violence against women and girls
The House of Commons Home Affairs Committee are looking at how violence against women and girls is being addressed, and are specifically exploring the investigation and prosecution of rape.
We're messaging you to let you know about this because you signed a petition about sentences for sexual offences.
Read about the Home Affairs Committee's overarching inquiry into violence against women and girls: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1159/violence-against-women-and-girls/
Find out more about their work into the investigation and prosecution of rape: https://committees.parliament.uk/work/1160/investigation-and-prosecution-of-rape/
Last week the Committee held the first evidence session of its inquiry into violence against women, where it heard from experts who are working to inform government at the national and local level, and from domestic abuse charities.
Find out more about this session: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/83/home-affairs-committee/news/155731/committee-takes-evidence-from-domestic-abuse-commissioner-refuge-and-centre-for-womens-justice-on-vawg/
Read a transcript of the session: https://committees.parliament.uk/oralevidence/2320/pdf/
Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates on its work: @CommonsHomeAffs
What is the Home Affairs Committee?
The Home Affairs Committee is a cross-party group of MPs known as a 'select committee' which scrutinises the policy, administration and spending of the Home Office. The Committee is independent of the Government.
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