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Child sex sentences a joke, police tell parliament

Police have branded sentences handed down to pedophiles as a joke, abhorrent and ridiculous and said judges were easily tricked into believing offenders were rehabilitated.
The blunt verdict from frontline officers who meet the victims and their parents and arrest the offenders has been handed to the state Parliament’s Child Sexual Offences Committee, which begins its inquiry today.
The state’s Police Association had asked officers, who are discouraged from speaking publicly on individual cases, for the first time for their thoughts on the sentencing of child sex offenders.
“Individual submissions to the association poignantly detail their own cases at their respective stations and many mention the injustice, anger and disbelief at how the ‘system’ has failed to adequately deal with their situations,” association president Scott Weber said in their submission.
One detective, who was not identified, said a mother and her boyfriend who drugged the woman’s 13-year-old daughter before he raped her while she took photographs got four years after pleading guilty.
“A police prosecutor with about 20 years’ experience said it was one of the worst matters he had seen,” said the detective, who believed a 10-year sentence was more appropriate.
“In all my years as a detective, it is abhorrent,” he said.
“I’m still shaking my head with this one. What sort of a deterrent is that?”
Another officer said: “The current sentences are an absolute joke … the general public would be outraged if they knew the length of sentences handed out.”
Some officers spoke of how manipulative sex offenders are both with their young victims and the courts, Mr Weber said.
The committee was set up after The Daily Telegraph’s campaign for mandatory sentences for child sex offenders following the good behaviour bond handed down to a father who repeatedly raped his daughter from the age of nine.
The man has since been jailed following an appeal.
Mandatory sentences are opposed by lawyers’ groups ­including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
Other options being considered by the committee include mandatory non-parole periods and chemical castration.
Other suggestions put forward in various submissions include banning plea bargains in child sex cases, cutting the usual 25 per cent discount on sentence for pleas of guilty and a public sex offender register.

12,596 registered sex offenders across Australia (March 2011).

1277 sentenced sex offenders in NSW jails with another 81 awaiting sentence (December 2012)

Only 15 per cent of sex incidents involving a child lead to criminal charges.

2006: 4581 sexual offence incidents involving a child (0 — 15) reported to NSW Police.

591 people appeared in court charged with at least one offence/343 found guilty/214 jailed.

2007: 4488 sexual offence incidents involving a child victim reported to NSW Police.

599 people appeared in court charged with at least one offence/340 convicted/187 jailed.

2008: 4739 sexual offence incidents involving a child victim reported to NSW Police.

722 people appeared in court charged with at least one offence/422 convicted/232 jailed.

2009: 5062 sexual offence incidents involving a child victim reported to NSW Police.

627 people appeared in court charged with at least one offence/398 convicted/246 jailed.

2010: 4886 sexual offence incidents involving a child victim reported to NSW Police.

603 people appeared in court charged with at least one offence/367 convicted/214 jailed.

Figures from submissions to the committee by NSW Government and Police Association.

The child sex abuse royal commission has called for more survivors to speak up on the eve of one of its most ­important hearings.
As it begins a two-week investigation into abuse at four of the Christian Brothers’ orphanages in Western Australia, the commission’s CEO Janette Dines said there would be a national campaign to explain the commission’s work.
Ms Dines said that while more than 1400 people had already spoken out and a survey had found widespread community awareness, there was still uncertainty about what sort of cases it could look into.
“We will be able to connect with more people and ensure that everyone who experienced child sexual abuse while in the care of an Australian ­institution has the opportunity to share their story.”

www.dailytelegraph.com.au (28-4-2014)
Janet Fife-Yeomans

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