The British Coalition Government is in total confusion and turmoil over the ruling by the UK Supreme Court that the lack of a review mechanism regarding the Sex Offenders Register violates the European Convention on Human Rights.
The Cameron Government is terrified of being criticised by the Sun newspaper, the disproportionately influential child protection industry and campaigners such as Sara Payne. As a result, any move to provide a means of allowing convicted sex offenders to appeal their indefinite registration will be avoided at all costs, even if that itself violates the Law by failing to implement the ruling of the highest court in the land.
The ruling was handed down last April and has still not been addressed by the Government for fear of provoking a populist backlash.
The coalition has already demonstrated its weakness on such matters by its response to the ruling by the European Court of Human Rights over the rights of prisoners to vote. The Court ruled that the “vast majority of prisoners” should be allowed to vote yet the Government has brought forward plans to allow only a small proportion of UK prisoners to do so; specifically, those serving less than 4 years which actually accounts for only 30% of those incarcerated. The 4 year cut off originates in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 which has been condemned by many as out of date, unrealistic, failing to recognise positive change in individuals and prejudiced against anyone with a meaningful sentence.
The failed Blair/Brown administration put that decision on ice for 5 years and it was only pressure from the EU Council of Ministers that forced Cameron to Act. By his own admission he did so “with great reluctance” and he made no secret of his opinion that the proposals eventually advanced were designed to prevent “the most serious offenders” from being able to vote, even though this fails to satisfy the requirements of the Court’s ruling and will inevitably be challenged.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that if the present Government had nightmares over that decision, it will almost certainly have a nervous breakdown over the rights of sex offenders to appeal their indefinite registration.
There are certain MPs, such as John Mann and Luciana Berger who try desperately to stay in the parliamentary spotlight by attempting to creep to the likes of the Sun, Sarah Payne and other parties who have vested interests in maintaining public fear over child sex abuse. These MPs, who have no interest in anything other than their own progress and afluence, damage the efforts of those who are seriously interested in protecting children. They cheapen and undermine the efforts of those who understand that persecuting sex offenders, even if that is an easy thing to do, does not solve the problem whereas trying to find ways to reintegrate such offenders back into the community does.
The equation is simple: close a hospital and you lose votes; play the populist card and lock up sex offenders for as long as possible – even if they don’t deserve it – and you win votes.
Such a stance is easy to take as well, for the majority of the electorate still believe in the well promoted myth of “stranger danger” whereas in reality, most sex abuse takes place in the home and is carried out by friends or members of the alleged victim’s family.
The following is an excerpt from the November 2010 Hansard, the official parliamentary record and relates to a written question to the Home Secretary from Alun Cairns MP:
Alun Cairns: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps her Department plans to take in response to the Supreme Court judgement on the Violent and Sex Offenders Register and Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 
James Brokenshire [holding answer 16 November 2010]: On 21 April 2010, in the case of R (on the application of F and Angus Aubrey Thompson) v. Secretary of State for the Home Department (2010) UKSC 17, the Supreme Court declared the present arrangements requiring the indefinite registration of offenders under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, without the prospect of review, to be incompatible with article 8 of the European convention on human rights (ECHR). The effect of a declaration of incompatibility is not to render the relevant primary legislation invalid. Rather, such legislation remains in force until such time as the Government amend it. Protecting the public is a priority for the Home Office and the Secretary of State is considering the judgment carefully and liaising with partners in order to ascertain how best to give effect to the Court’s judgment.
The nauseating response “Protecting the public is a priority for the Home Office and the Secretary of State is considering the judgment carefully and liaising with partners in order to ascertain how best to give effect to the Court’s judgment” has been offered on no less than 5 previous occasions and indicates two things very clearly:
a) the Government has no idea how to respond in a manner that both satisfies the ruling of the Court yet does not leave them open to criticism from the tabloids, child protection groups and individuals like Payne and b) that the Government is prepared to pull the same stunt as they did over the election rights of prisoners and delay any action for as long as possible, preferably until after the next election in 4 years time even though this would put them in breach of a ruling from the very Court that they themselves set up.
That British Governments break the Law regularly is not in question; one look at the records of the European Courts will prove that.
What is particularly hypocritical however is the way in which the Government is so ready to invoke measures such as the failed Indeterminate Sentence for Public Protection, Sex Offender Prevention Orders, Sex Offender Risk of Harm Orders, Sex Offender Travel Prevention Orders and numerous other and increasingly odious “sex offender” measures that rely not on proof or evidence but on the assumption by the Police that an offender may commit further offences in the future, whilst at the same time being so desperate to avoid implementing a ruling from the Supreme Court that forces them to take a more balanced view and base decisions on evidence rather than hopelessly biased and bigoted speculation.
Why would the Government be so willing to allow itself to be labelled as hypocritical in this way?
The answer is simple. TheOpinionSite.org points out again that there are 2,000,000 people in the UK who now depend on “child protection” for their income. That’s 2,000,000 members of the workforce; that’s 2,000,000 voters of whom Cameron and Clegg are terrified.
Meanwhile, those who are subject to what even the Police regard as a waste of money – the Sex Offenders Register – and who are prevented from appealing their indefinite registration on the same by the illegal and unlawful actions of the British Government – must continue to put up with it.
Cameron really is an idiot and a fool if he cannot see the obvious effect of this.
Put a man on the Sex Offender Register indefinitely and by implication you also put his family on it. You prevent the man from ever working again; you also prevent his older children from working and lay his younger children open to bullying at school; the State has to pay for the offender, his wife and children for an indefinite period; the State has to pay for their housing and benefits; the State has to pay for the Police to visit on a regular basis whether it is necessary for “public protection” or not; the State has to go on paying, not for 5 or 10 years but for 40 or 50 years.
The most ridiculous thing of all is that because sex offenders can be convicted in the UK on little or even no evidence at all, the numbers on the Sex Offenders Register will always continue to increase. The UK has over 70 possible sexual offences; France has 7.
In 1999 there were just under 3,000 people on the Register; now, there are 47,000. Most of them will be on the Register for ever as indefinite registration is automatic for sentences of 30 months or more and it is virtually impossible to receive a sentence for a sexual offence against a ‘child’ (anyone under 18) that does not carry at least 5 years and more usually carries a minimum of 10.
TheOpinionSite.org believes that this cannot go on.The Government should recognise its own obligations to the Law and introduce legislation that FULLY satisfies the requirements of the Supreme Court ruling.
A response from the Government is possibly expected in February, 2011.
Cameron should not give in to the Sun, Sarah Payne, Berger, Mann or anyone else but should do what no Prime Minister in recent years has had the guts to do: admit that the current Law is hopelessly wrong and that it is driven by weak, self-seeking politicians, tabloid newspapers and groups and individuals who make a good living from the suffering of others.
Sadly, TheOpinionSite.org does not believe that Cameron or his cronies have the courage to do any of what is required. We hope that on this occasion however, we are wrong.