'Research Needed' Into Tougher Sentences For Sex Offenders

The Magistrate's Court in Jersey

Ministers say more research would be needed to decide if sex offenders should be monitored for their whole life.

They've responded to a petition calling for those convicted to be jailed for at least three years and their names to stay on the Sex Offenders' Register indefinitely.

2,300 people have signed the e-petition set up by paedophile hunter Cheyenne O'Connor.

A response from Ministers says setting minimum prison sentences is not common practice here.  Laws set out maximum terms and courts decide an appropriate sentence:

"It is not common practice in Jersey to use legislation to set mandatory minimum prison terms for offences. Legislation usually refers to the maximum sentence that can be imposed for an offence. This is the case for the 2018 Sexual Offences Law and maximum sentences are set out throughout Articles 9 to 20. The maximum prison sentences have been set having regard to the nature of the behaviour giving rise to the offence and the penalties and range from liability to imprisonment for life to imprisonment for 5 years."

Addressing the Sex Offenders' Register, Ministers say that offenders here have to apply to be taken off when their court order expires, and aren't automatically removed like in England:

"Once convicted, offenders are placed on the sex offenders register, allowing the relevant authorities to keep track of their whereabouts and providing greater powers to enter and search their premises. In contrast to the position in England and Wales, offenders are not automatically removed from the register at the end of the period, but must make a public application to be removed which is then determined by the Court."

They say work would need to be done to assess the benefits diverting resources to monitoring offenders for their whole life given - they say - 'there are likely to be circumstances were an individual has not re-offended in decades and may no longer pose a threat to the public’.

"In terms of the benefits of lifelong registration, further research would be needed to establish if resources should be diverted to monitoring offenders for their whole life, keeping in mind that there will likely be circumstances where an individual has not re-offended in decades and may no longer pose a threat to the public."

You can read the full response on Gov.je.

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