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Ten years’ jail for ‘serious threats’?

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NEW powers that could see offenders who make ‘serious threats’ to kill or harm jailed for up to a decade are under consideration.

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Current laws do allow authorities to deal with less serious threats – but they only carry a maximum prison term of two years.

The Crime (Disorderly Conduct and Harassment) Law outlaws ‘threatening, abusive or disorderly conduct’ while the telecommunications legislation gives prosecutors powers to tackle ‘grossly offensive, indecent, obscene or menacing’ communications online or on phones.

Under proposed changes, outlined in the draft Crime (Prejudice and Public Disorder) Law, serious threats to kill or cause serious harm – where the intention is that the recipient should believe they are genuinely at risk – would carry a maximum jail term of ten years.

The legislation is currently open for consultation.

And new figures show that since 2017 the States police have issued 25 Personal Safety Warnings – formerly known as Osman Warnings – to Islanders. So far this year, three have been issued. Last year the figure was 14 and there were eight warnings in 2017. Warnings are issued if police have intelligence of a real and immediate threat to the life of an individual.

In such cases officers may not have enough evidence to make an arrest and so warn the potential victim through a notice or letter that their life is endanger.

Asked if the proposed new legislation had been in place in the past, whether it could have been used to prosecute offenders in Jersey, a spokesman said: ‘There may well have been cases where more stringent legislation would have been used but we are unable to provide specific examples.’

The spokesman added: ‘Intelligence that suggests a threat to an individual or group will be graded.

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‘If deemed credible it will then be given a level of risk and it is that level of risk that dictates what rank an officer must be to decide appropriate action.

‘For example, the action taken in highest risk cases will likely be decided by a Superintendent.’

The consultation, which is available to view and respond to at gov.je, is also asking whether threats to share ‘revenge pornography’ or rape should be included in the new law.

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