Indeterminate sentence prisoners

Publication Date01 Dec 2020
DOI10.1177/0264550520961630c
SubjectIn court
PRB961630 460..472 In court
469
towards female children; while the nature of that risk was said to be linked primarily
with further abusive images of children, his most recent offending indicated an
increased likelihood of a contact sexual offence. However, the probation officer did not
assess him to be ‘dangerous’ within the meaning of CJA 2003. Though finding no clear
evidence to suggest that A. appeared interested in committing contact offences, the
psychiatrist considered that the court might consider him to be ‘dangerous’, without
explaining why, save for A.’s minimisation of his role in his current reoffending and the
benefit he could derive from a sex offender treatment programme.
On A.’s appeal against a five-year extended sentence (a custodial term of three
years and an extended licence period of two years), it was conceded that he might
commit a further specified offence, but it was contended that there was no signifi-
cant evidence upon which to base a finding that he posed a significant risk of
causing serious physical or psychological harm to members of the public. It was
argued that the risk of a contact offence involving a child was negligible and neither
report had suggested that such an offence was likely. Although commission of a
contact offence was not a necessary precursor to a finding of dangerousness, in this
case no children had been contacted or sought to be contacted. Unlike those
involved in the production of indecent material, a distributor like A. does not create
the risk of causing serious harm but instead perpetuates the harm caused by others.
The Court of Appeal observed that where a sentencing judge, as in this instance,
has applied the correct test and has taken into account all the relevant material, the
Court will be ‘very slow to interfere’ with that assessment of dangerousness. How-
ever, the judge here had fallen short of establishing the requisite risk of serious
harm. Despite the acknowledged risk of an escalation in A.’s behaviour, he had not
sought to make contact with any child and there was no clear evidence that he
would be likely to do so; all his offending communications having been with X. and
other adults. Further, ‘this was only the second incident of distribution offending’.
His attempts to minimise his behaviour and to conceal his activities, though matters
of concern, were not enough in themselves to demonstrate the necessary risk of
causing serious physical or...

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