Celebrity sex offenders who abuse fame face more jail time

New sentencing guidelines shaped by Jimmy Savile case also put more emphasis on 'psychological harm'

LAST UPDATED AT 09:36 ON Thu 12 Dec 2013

CELEBRITY sex offenders who exploit their fame to commit and hide their crimes could face longer jail terms under revised sentencing guidelines which will come into play next year.

The overhaul of the guidelines - which now place more emphasis on psychological harm - represents a major step in the criminal justice system. The new guidelines will reflect a "more sophisticated understanding of the psychology of sex offenders and the harm done to their victims," the BBC says.

Under the new guidelines, due out in England and Wales next year, offenders who "abuse their position of power" could face longer jail terms. Other factors which will be taken into consideration by judges might be grooming activity and whether the offence is filmed, the BBC says.

Work began on the new guidelines a number of years ago, Sky News says. But the changes follow a series of high-profile sex offence cases - notably the Jimmy Savile and Stuart Hall cases and cases of grooming in Rochdale and Oxford - "which have had an impact on attitudes towards sex crimes".

The guidelines cover more than 50 offences including rape, child sex offences and trafficking. They also bring in higher starting points for sentences for some offences, such as rape, which will extend to 15 years.

The previous guidelines, released in 2004, concentrated on the "physicality of the offence itself", says the BBC’s legal correspondent Clive Coleman. "The seriousness of the crime was principally determined by which part of the offender's body touched which part of the victim's body."

In its revised form, the guidance will put more emphasis on the long-term and psychological impact on victims.

Says Coleman: "Now a judge will have to look in detail at what happened before the crime, such as the [offender’s] motivation and how they used their power or position to groom. And the judge will also have to look in detail at what happened after the crime. In particular, consideration will be given to the long-term psychological harm done to the victim." · 

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