Over cautious approach on prosecution of suspected sex offenders

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The Director of Public Prosecutions has ordered a review of the guidelines issued to Police and Prosecutors in England and Wales in cases involving child victims of sexual abuse and exploitation.

The recent high profile cases involving Jimmy Saville and other cases of child exploitation have prompted Keir Starmer to consider an overhaul of the system which , he stated, has led to an over cautious approach to prosecution of suspected offenders.

He thinks that too much emphasis has been put on the credibility of child victims, who are young and often vulnerable, and not enough on that of the suspects. In future it is hoped a more balanced approach will be taken and the credibility of the suspected offender looked at more closely. Special training is to be offered to those dealing with cases involving child exploitation where complaints from vulnerable victims have often not been taken seriously.

In conjunction with the review of the guidelines Mr Starmer has also said that a panel will review cases where alleged perpetrators were not charged and if felt appropriate advise chief constables on whether or not cases should be reopened.

A review into the allegations against the late DJ and TV presenter Jimmy Saville found that he had carried out more than 200 sex offences over a 54 year period. Allegations were reported to the police several times whilst he was still alive but no action was taken against him.

The draft guidelines are expected to be ready in May for a 3 month public consultation.


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