Thursday, July 23, 2009

UK Sex Offenders Can Be Removed from Registry : Sex offenders to get names wiped off register if they no longer pose threat.

Even the British have gotten it right before we have...

Sex offenders who no longer pose a threat to society will be given the chance to wipe the slate clean and have their names removed from the police database, the Court of Appeal ruled today.

The Home Office had been attempting to overturn an earlier High Court ruling that placing people on the sex offenders register for life with no chance of review breaches their human rights.

Today's landmark decision comes as a serious blow to the Government as it attempts to keep tabs on paedophiles and other sex criminals.

Three judges at the Court of Appeal in London ruled that the human rights of a two sex offenders, including an 11-year-old rapist, had been violated.

That was because they had been put on the Sex Offenders Register for life, with all the heavy restrictions on their liberty that that entails, without any possibility of review. (...Just like it is here in the USA).

While recognising the vital importance of the Register in the fight against sex crime, Lord Justice Dyson said it was 'disproportionate' to keep an offender's name on it forever, even after it can 'confidently be said' that they pose no further threat to the public.

The court's ruling that placing sex offenders on the Register indefinitely, without any prospect of review, is 'incompatible' with the European Convention on Human Rights will almost certainly force Parliament's hand into changing the law.

Once that happens, thousands of sex offenders will be able to demand reviews of their cases and that their names be removed from the Register and police databases.

Lord Justice Dyson, sitting with Lords Justices Kay and Hooper, said they were sensitive to public concerns and were not putting the interests of offenders ahead of those of the victims.

'All right-minded people would applaud Parliament's objective in establishing the register to help police detect and prevent sexual offending,' he said.

'But a scheme which obliges offenders who are sentenced to 30 months' detention or more to remain on the register for the rest of their lives without any possibility of review, even if they can clearly demonstrate that they are no longer a risk, does nothing to promote that laudable objective and, in our view, it is disproportionate for that reason.'

It was for Parliament to decide 'how high to set the bar' which an offender would be required to cross in order to prove he was no longer a risk.

JF, now 17, was convicted of two offences of rape of a child under 13 and other sexual offences. He was aged 11 at the time of the assaults.

In October 2005 he was sentenced to 30 months' detention by Liverpool Crown Court and released on licence in January 2007. Thompson, from Newcastle Upon Tyne, was sentenced in November 1996 to five years' imprisonment on two counts of indecent assault on a female and other offences of actual bodily harm. Since being released in April 2000 he has not been in any trouble and is now in poor health after a series of heart attacks.

The Home Office said it would seek to challenge today's judgment in the Supreme Court, which takes over from the House of Lords as the UK's highest court in October.