The judiciary system in England and Wales could be reformed in light of criticism levelled at the treatment of child witness in court.
The news comes after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) criticised a barrister for describing a 13-year-old sex abuse victim as “predatory” in court. The CPS said the barrister’s use of language was “inappropriate”.
In the case, the defendant, Neil Wilson, was given an eight-month sentence, suspended for two years after pleading guilty to two counts of making extreme pornographic images and one count of sexual activity with a child. The nature of the sentence was brought to the attention of the Attorney General’s Office, who described it as “possibly unduly lenient”.
In the defence of Mr Wilson, his solicitor, Robert Colover, said the girl was “predatory in all her actions and she is sexually experienced.” Now, the judiciary says it plans to use a select pool of judges, who will receive specialist training, to work on complex child abuse cases.
Unduly lenient sentence
A statement by the Attorney General’s Office read: “The case has been drawn to the attention of this office as a possibly unduly lenient sentence.
“This means it'll be considered by a law officer (the Attorney or Solicitor General) who will decide whether it should be referred to the Court of Appeal under the unduly lenient sentence scheme.”
A decision will be made in due course, once files relating to the case have been considered.
Alison Worsley, of children's charity Barnardo's, said: “It is plain wrong to imply in any way that the experiences of sexually exploited children are something they bring on themselves.
“It is difficult to imagine the torment experienced by the vulnerable victims of crimes such as these.”
An online petition has been launched urging the CPS to take action over these remarks and can be accessed here: http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/crown-prosecution-service-cpsuk-take-action-over-sexual-predator-court-comments