Sex offenders who are placed on the sexual offenders register for life are to be given the right to appeal after the Supreme Court ruled that denying them that right was a breach of their human rights.
The decision means the Government has no choice but implement a tribunal process through which offenders who have committed serious sexual offences can attempt to convince a panel they are no longer a threat to society.
The Government has to implement the decision as the Supreme Court is the highest in the land and there is no way to appeal their decisions.
The law as it stands means every offender who is convicted of a serious sexual offence and sentenced to more than 30 days in prison is placed on the sex offenders register for life. Serious sexual offences include rape, sexual assault, and offences against children.
Two convicted sex offenders challenged the law in 2008 by arguing that they should have the right to appeal their place on the sex offenders list and be removed if no longer a threat to others.
One of the offenders, named only as JF, was convicted of raping a six-year-old boy when he was 11 years old. The second, a man named Angus Aubrey Thompson, was jailed in 1996 for five years for indecent assault and actual bodily harm.
Both have since been released.
The High Court ruled in their favour and said that the indefinite placement of sex offenders on the sex offenders register infringes their right to privacy.
The Home Office challenged this ruling in the Supreme Court.
During the ruling, the President of the Supreme Court, Sir Philips, said that obviously there must be a suitable procedure in place that ensures only those offenders who have been successfully rehabilitated and are genuinely no longer a threat to society can be removed from the register.
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg echoed this sentiment on London’s LBC radio, saying “we are not going to let our guard down”. He said the last thing the Government wants is for convicted sex offenders to “disappear off the radar screen”.
The ruling has caused grave concern amongst those who represent the victims of sexual crimes and experts in child protection. One child protection expert told the BBC that “these people are like leopards, they don’t change their spots.”
Read more on the Supreme Court ruling (BBC)
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