New tactics on sex offences

THE States police are to overhaul the way they investigate sexual offences in a major new initiative party brought about by the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Savile escaped justice for more than five decades despite abusing hundreds of victims
Savile escaped justice for more than five decades despite abusing hundreds of victims

THE States police are to overhaul the way they investigate sexual offences in a major new initiative party brought about by the Jimmy Savile scandal.

Under the banner of Operation Amber, the force is to roll out a number of schemes to encourage women to report sexual abuse and help officers build-up intelligence about sex attackers.

It comes as police forces across Britain review how they investigate sex crimes following the revelations that Savile escaped justice for more than five decades despite abusing hundreds of victims.

Comments for: "New tactics on sex offences"

annette liron

Jimmy Savile was the lowest form of life. Shame on the people,including the police who decided not to investigate accusations made against him. Perverts like Jimmy Savile ruin lives and cause unknown psychological damage. He abused old and young alike.I always thought the man was hideous and repulsive and wondered why and how he was so popular. Let the Jimmy Savile episode be a lesson to the Jersey authorities... never judge a book by the cover, listen and investigate regardless of how popular or rich the person is.

Kim

Annette- I too always thought he was was repulsive and every time I see a picture of him,like the one at the top of this article,I feel quite sick.I was taken to an event at West Park Pavillion, if memory serves me correctly, when I was a young girl.I can't remember why this man was there or what the event was but all the children had to line up on stage with him.I remember being quite chuffed to meet someone "famous" but also a bit uneasy because even at such a young age I found him a bit creepy.Now of course the truth is out and we discover that numerous people protected him because he was such a nice rich man who gave money to charity.I sincerely hope lessons have been learned.

S2

They did investigate, but the number of allegations was very low (2-3?), all uncorroborated with no witnesses or other evidence. Thus it was decided not to take it any further and certainly not release details of any allegations to the public. As my colleague below suggests, when the number of allegations becomes so large there has to be some credibility, but to come forward with such an allegation (mostly) is very hard to do.

Main

It is difficult to see how it can "be a lesson to the Jersey authorities". For one thing, he didn't live here and for another, there is no proof in any of the allegations revealed decades after they supposedly happened.

It is very easy to adopt a neanderthal, lynch mob mentality- the small matters of no proof and no evidence don't seem to worry some of these low iq types.

Dave

Well maybe in the future they can also encourage people to come forward much sooner than waiting a year after the alleged perpetrator has died? Many people still find it difficult to believe that hundreds of people did this.

Blue Knight

Dave - whilst I can understand why you have made this comment, victims of sexual abuse often have huge psychological barriers to cope with, before reporting an offence.

How would you like to disclose to a complete stranger that you have been sexually abused? How would you like to describe and relive an horrific, uninvited and sordid event?

One of the problems the police will encounter, is the limited number of officers they have trained to deal with this type of offence. The majority aren't suitable for these very sensitive and complex investigations.

In my day in the police, only specially selected officers attended courses in the U.K. on how to interview vulnerable victims. I would be surprised if there was more than a handful who can do this sort of work.

Annette - investigating sexual offences is beset with all sorts of complex legal rules on how evidence can be collated and presented in Court. Even police officers find this hard to comprehend, yet these rules are in place to prevent miscarriages of justice. Remember, as horrible as this type of crime is, there have been false allegations.

Those investigating are duty bound to appraoch every complaint with an open mind and deal with the case without fear favour, hatred or partiality.

Whilst there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that Saville committed numerous acts of sexual abuse, this has thus far not been proved beyond all reasonable doubt. The one strong point is likely to be what is known as 'evidence of similar fact'.

I know of a number of cases where victims were believed, but the Law Officers wouldn't allow cases to proceed, because they couldn't pass the strict legal rules governing the admissibility of evidence.

It is easy to criticise investigators, when you are not in possession of all the facts. That said I am aware of cases in the past, where police officers did less than their best in dealing with this type of case. Remember there are rogues in most professions, including lawyers, doctors, accountants, politicians and as we know the priesthood.

You must not tar every police officer with the same brush - there are believe it or not many honest officers and a number of effective investigators. :-)

Renegade

Thanks for your thoughts Blue Knight,

While I applaud the efforts by the Police to raise awareness about the law and encourage victims to come forward earlier, I am concerned that trying to remove the "barriers" they mentioned in disallowing hearsay evidence could lead to false allegations being given more credence than they deserve.

We have already rid ourselves of the warning to juries about unsupported allegations, I can only hope that in our zeal to help genuine victims of rape we don't try to lower the standard of proof which would endanger the innocent accused.

Mjolnir de Jersiaise

I'm married now, but if I was a single guy I think I'd adopt the old-fashioned "Catholic" approach to dealing with the opposite sex: i.e. Decide in advance that I would never have sex until I'm married and make sure to never be alone with a member of the opposite sex. Also, I'd make sure to never drink alcohol. Only by doing all of these things can you protect yourself from making some slight error that may one day be used against you by a system that requires no evidence whatsoever. Methinks there are going to be a lot of young guys in prison, for the slightest of accidental drunken transgressions, in the future.

I'm not trying to downplay the seriousness of real assaults (I have two daughters and am very concerned about their safety at all times). It's just that much stupid, drunken behaviour, by teenagers and young adults, which would have just been 'par for the course' in the 1960s and 1970s, will now be very risky indeed for the male of the species.

The pendulum that was swung to the extreme, of "free love" and "do whatever you wannna do, man", in the 60s, has now swung to the opposite extreme: that of a ferocious puritanism that can easily be abused by vindictive females.

My advice to ALL single males, is this: be an old-fashioned 'Catholic', or a Victorian gentleman (preferably both).

QC

The trouble, of course, is that the spirit of "free love" and the acceptable behaviour of those days would not be regarded as acceptable today.

That is all very well, but for the fact that what we are seeing is, in effect, the retrospective criminalisation of the social mores of yesterday.

Someone could come forward and claim that "something happened" forty or so years ago. It is possible that nothing in fact did happen, or that whatever did occur was socially acceptable at the time.

The real difficulty comes with what would appear to be something approaching a reversal of the burden of proof. The various celebrities who are now targeted will be acutely aware of this. They are, in effect, being expected to disprove an allegation. This flies in the face of the requirement for a complainant to prove his or her case and it is an extremely dangerous development.

Any person, primarily any male person, could be open to a spurious allegation decades from now and may, if the current hysteria is not nipped in the bud, find themselves unable to defend themselves and looking at a serious criminal conviction.

It is difficult, to say the least, for a person to "disprove" something that is alleged to happened forty years ago. Any conviction based on such grounds is not, in the minds of most, a proper conviction.

Another layer of difficulty arises where an alleged perpetrator (for example Sir Jimmy Savile) is deceased and where trial by media has led to a "mob mentality, no smoke without fire" finding of guilt against a person who was not called upon to answer any allegations.

The law and anyone with any sense would rightly regard such a person as having an unblemished character

QC

The Jimmy Savile thing is somewhat frightening because it makes a finding in the absence of proper evidence or trial and it also gives unhindered and indeed unhinged belief to untested accounts, whereby the alleged victims have seen fit, for some reason, to remain silent for four to five decades.

Now we see the fiasco spreading in a way which would credit the Germaine Greer "all men are rapists" fashion.

This will lead to the inevitable tampering with the laws of criminal evidence- the eventual effect will be the reversal of the burden of proof. One would respectfully suggest that the overzealous female police officers who are promoting this stance might care to take a more objective view of their sworn duty to uphold the law.

As things stand, the Jimmy Savile affair exemplifies this foolhardy, reactionary approach in so far as uncorroborated, untested accounts are taken as an effective posthumous conviction.

It is a cause of great concern.

Renegade

From your lips to God's ears QC, you took the words out of my mouth - since when did unsupported allegations take the place of due process and the burden of evidence being upon the Prosecution? Apparently since the alleged perpetrator dies and cannot be libelled in this case.

QC

Thank you. What an eloquent opening statement in your comment.

It was and is significant to note that the allegations were not made until well after the passing of Sir Jimmy Savile. The motivation, as always, would appear to be financial recompense from the sizeable estate. No matter if, as is occurring, the charities established in his name are now in jeopardy.

It will be interesting to see how the case against others like the eighty-three year old Stuart Hall unfold- assuming that the stress of it all does not lead to his decease.

What I find particularly worrying, from both a professional and a personal viewpoint, is that the Savile affair, such as it is, seems to be giving certain individuals the ammunition that they have been seeking for so long to tamper with the criminal justice system and to issue misogynist statements against men. Those individuals, as public servants of apparent intelligence, ought to know better.

Many will find the police media statement "addressed to all men" somewhat sexist, more than a little bigoted and certainly extremely offensive.

We certainly live in increasingly unenlightened times. I watch with interest.

Blue Knight

The problem is when there is so much hype in the media during an investigation, there is empirical evidence that subsequent accounts from people claiming to be victims, will be potentially adversely influenced.

When people are subjected to a daily diet of news, that this or that person has committed sexual offences and there is a suggestion of compensation, some people may be motivated to make false allegations for gain.

Others may have psychological issues, that drives them to seek attention.

Then you may have those who want retribution for whatever reason, who may make false allegations.

Any one of a number of reasons, may - and I stress may - result in false allegations being made.

We must resist any attempt to lower the very high burden of proof necessary to obtain convictions.

With vast improvements in technology, including the collection DNA evidence and forensic medical examination, today's investigators have a far easier task in collating evidence than ever before. There should be no need to lower high threshold of evidence necessary to obtain a conviction.

What is needed is greater impartiality, objectivity and honesty from the investigators. They should be collating eivdence not only to prove an allegation, but to also disprove it.

Investigators shouldn't just try and construct a case against an accused person, their primary goal should be establishing the truth.

Lady Jane Grey

As a victim of rape myself, I actually agree with many of the above comments, as they are all valid in some form.

However, having been through this horrendous ordeal, facing up to the fact that I could no longer live with it and deal with it on my own, I eventually told someone close, and a few months later built up the courage to speak to the police.

The police officers involved were extremely kind and they gave me strength and supported me through the long and awful process of our so called 'justice' system.

I would urge others who have suffered abuse to come forward as this will help build a database of repeat offenders and let true victims know that they are believed and it is not their fault.

The police referred me to the Victim Support group who were a huge help to me and again I would recommend to anyone who needs to talk about their experience to give them a call.

However, they must be aware that if they follow this course of action, they may well be forced to give evidence at trial, which I can tell you from my own experience is harrowing and lives with me to this day. Also knowing that the JEP has specifically selected 'tempting' snippets of the evidence and court proceedings to increase circulation simply added to the vileness of the whole ordeal.

Nick

The Savile scandal is exactly that, how this man got away with it for the whole of his life is beyond me, people and institutions he worked for knew and did nothing, they now should be prosecuted if possible?

The sentences for sex offenders is not nearly high enough, one could argue that when a paedophile has been identified and successfully prosecuted, he should never again be released in to society, you can't cure them, they will always be a danger to children.

Sarah

Perhaps the reason why he got away with it for his whole life is because he didn't do anything wrong.

Blue Knight

Nick - I would tend to believe those who have made allegations about Saville. However, unless there is other evidence to corroborate their accounts, be that forensic or from another witness, their complaints cannot be proven beyond all doubt.

There was a saying, that it was better that ten guilty men were acquitted than one innocent man be convicted.

Look back as the history of crime and punishment and you will see numerous cases where there have been miscarriages of justice.

I can't imagine what that would be like if I was innocent and the police had produced false evidence to convict me.

It might not just be the police who create evidence. Witnesses too could conspire together to plant evidence and give false testimony against a person.

As I said earlier, this could be for compensation, retribution or whatever.

I must agree with you that a paedophile's desires probably cannot be changed - how do you amend a person's sexual orientation? In most cases you'd be condemned as a complete heretic, if you even suggested trying.

Is a sex offender's behaviour resultant of nature or nurture?

I read somewhere that where criminologists had suggested some criminal behaviour was a natural trait. As a result lawyers in the United States had tried to get clients acquitted of a crime, claiming they couldn't help their behaviour because it was genetic.

Of course the police should seek continuous improvement, in the way they investigate sex offences. They should however approach every investigaion with an open mind and impartiality.

UK Student

Now I'm not defending paedophiles here, but the Rehabilitation of Offenders Law does mean exactly that. The whole point of prison is that individuals return to society knowing that if they re-offend they'll be going straight back.

A sex offender is still a criminal (by calling it their sexual orientation that makes it sound more acceptable, which it isn't). If, when re-integrated into society, they choose to re-offend then their sentence wasn't long enough first time around to act as a deterrent.

Blue Knight

U.K. Student - What I was trying to show was a paedophile's attraction towards children was his sexual orientation.

Whilst I would no way condone the behaviour of paedophiles, we should at least try to understand what makes them behave the way they do.

Deborah

The vexed matter of so-called "sexual orientation" raises another difficulty which seems so far to have proved elusive. History and science shows that abuse of young persons is something which is inate or which is possibly acquired in very early years. In other words, it is a from of sexual orientation.

The difficulty arises because the matter of orientation has been seized upon by those who have sought to legitimise and to promote homosexuality. The culture of political correctness which has enshrined this move now precludes mature debate of other, less acceptable, forms of sexual orientation.

The result of that, together with the hysteria surrounding any hint of child abuse, is that no academic would dare to undertake a thesis on this form of sexual orientation and if they did, they would surely be inclined to bias their thesis in a way which would not upset the applecart of established learning. That, in turn, means that we fail, in scientific terms, to advance our understanding of this illness.

Nick's point is a valid one. People with a propensity to commit this kind of offence may well be moved to offend again. Aside from the expensive and negative option of ongoing imprisonment, we should be offering some kind of treatment. Unfortunately, for the reasons outlined above, any such treatment will be unavailiable as long as the politically correct obsession with "sexual orientation" continues to pander to the homosexual fraternity to the exclusion of all else.

Blue Knight

Thats an interesting submission Deborah and I won't disagree with much of what you have said. I feel political correctness stifles debate, as we will be shouted down and told we are bigots if we question whether homsexuality is natural. I am inclined to believe it is more probably genetic than an acquired behaviour.

I would be interested to hear how the desires of paedophiles can be changed. I am hetrosexual and I can't imagine having some form of treatment to make me change my desires.

I remember speaking to the late Ray Wire, a renowned expert in the study of the causes of paedophilia. I think I am right in saying he said you probably can't amend the behaviour of paedophiles.Thats a good reason to have known offenders on the sex register and for the police to keep a track of their whereabouts.

Deborah

I suppose what I was thinking was the idea of some form of chemical castration which operates on a neurological level; either that, or some tried and tested form of psycho therapy.

The underlying and real issue is, of course, a failure of research to look into these possibilities.

Because of this deficit, we do not yet know what might be "tried and tested" and the light at the end of the tunnel will continue to elude for as long as politically correct dogma exists.

It is clear that the current climate of policitical correctness must surely stifle meaningful research; awkward questions involving the interaction between culpability and genetic pre-disposition (the "sexual orientation" aspect) will continue to be avoided for so long as the homosexual fraternity claims sole possession of such a concept.

Blue Knight

Deborah, I suspect the proponents of human rights will have something to say about chemical castration.

As for psychological / psycho therapy - well do really you think that would change a person's persona? If being a hetrosexual was an offence - which thankfully it isn't - I doubt they could change the way I want to behave.

I was once told that psychologists build castles in the sky, for psychiatrists to live in. That's just me being cynical.

Deborah

The problem then is that the logical conclusion is that it is a matter of sexual orientaion and therefore "normal". Someone one day will perhaps argue that criminalisation is a breach of human rights.

As an interesting aside, an article in last week's "Times" newspaper referred to the practice being regarded as the norm in Afghanistan. There, the objectification of small boys seems to form part of an ancient cultural throwback. While it is true that the muslim segregation of females might have a lot to do with that, it is nonetheless the case that historical texts are littered with references to such things occurring in arab society, from royalty downwards.

Some might argue that this constitutes evidence of a biological norm in such behaviour, which being a norm, defies treatment or cure.

The curious thing is that, in certain coutries, this form of "sexual orientation" is deemed acceptable, while homosexuality remains a capital offence, the very reverse of our western brand of "liberal" thinking.

C@rLiNHo5

Oh damn!! ...I thought we'd bought back the "pillory stocks" when I saw the headline. Personally, I feel they should preform a castration on all known sex offenders to remove the urge before the crime is committed, they do this is some U.S correctional facilities and it works.