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Simon, Solicitor
Category: UK Law
Satisfied Customers: 58
Experience:  I'm a solicitor specialising in criminal defence work. I have been in private practice for 5 years.
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Hi! I am studying forensic psychology and have been asked

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Hi! I am studying forensic psychology and have been asked to sentence a child sex offender as part of my course work. Can you tell me how that works? I have read the CPS guidelines and also the sentencing council guidelines and they give a sentence which does not seem to be used in real life! What are the criteria when sentencing? Are there any rules when considering mitigating and aggrivating factors?
thank you!



I'll try to assist.


First things first, in order to review appropriate sentence we need to identify the specific offence for the case study - sorry to be pedantic but there is a huge range of these offences, from sexual activity in the presence of a child to grooming. What exactly does the case study provide as the alleged offence?





Customer: replied 6 years ago.
thank you for your reply. the case doesn't go into huge detail, but he is a 52 year old man who is charged with the manufacture and distribution of indecent images of children. 7500 images found some including his 10 year old niece, himself and on occasions his friend. All are images of penetrative sex with children betwenn 8 and 12. He has no previous convictions other than possession of a class B drug. All of the guidelines seem to suggest up to life imprisonment but looking at real cases, it appears that this isn't the case! Hope this helps!

thank you!




Thanks for the info.


Life sentence is not applicable in this case, charge would be one under s.1 Protection of Children Act 1978 or s.160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988. Maximum sentence for manufacturing/possession with intent to distribute/distribution is 10 years under s.1 PCA and 5 years under s.160 CJA or, if the offender is assessed as dangerous, imprisonment for public protection - otherwise know as IPP or an indefinite sentence.


In this case we would be looking at the upper limit of the regular sentence, but more likely the indefinite sentence, as the aggravating factors are extreme.




1. Direct involvement with the manufacture

2. Involvement of family member

3. Involvement of friends

4. Distribution/intent to distribute

5. Images all around the level 4 area

6. Large number of images

7. Young children


The previous conviction for possession of class B will be disregarded entirely, not relevant and very minor, and defendant would be treated as if he was of good character.




1. Good character

2. Guilty plea? If so, can expect 1/3 off what he would have received after trial or, in case of IPP, 1/3 off the tariff of years before he can apply for release/parole


That's about it for mitigation on this one.


IPP - if a conviction for a 'serious specified offence' (i.e. one that carries a maximum of at least 10 years) or a 'specified sexual offence' (i.e. one listed under Criminal Justice Act 2003) occurs then the court has to consider whether or not the defendant is a danger to the public. This assessment usually takes the form of a pre-sentence report from the Probation Service and, where necessary, a report from a forensic psychiatrist.


If the court is satisfied on the basis of the PSR and/or psych report, it must impose an IPP. To give an example, an individual is convicted of the distribution offence, level 5 images, aggravated etc and the Judge would, if the defendant was not dangerous, sentence him to 9 years imprisonment. As the defendant is dangerous, it must be an IPP and he will be sentenced to an IPP with a tariff of 4 1/2 years. He will serve at least 4 1/2 years imprisonment and can not be released until he is assessed as no longer posing a threat to the public. Hence indefinite sentence. The reason for the tariff being set at half the term determinate (i.e. the term of years, in this case 9) is that generally anyone handed down a determinate sentence will serve only half in prison before release on licence.


For this one, I'd expect an assessment of dangerousness simply due to the levels of the images, the number, the age of the children and the involvement of a family member. Given the aggravating factors, I'd expect a determinate sentence of 6 - 8 years, so an IPP of 3-4 years minimum.


Other orders that would likely be imposed at the same time are 1. registration and 2. Sexual Offences Prevention Order prohibiting all contact with children under 18 years.


Hope that assists, apologies if it's a bit lengthy.


Feel free to ask any follow up questions that occur.





Simon and 2 other UK Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you so much for your help!! I had no idea this was so complicated and thank goodness I will never have to sentence anyone!! Your information was great!!



A pleasure.


Useful reference for you might be the sentencing guidelines to the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Although the offences in this case aren't governed by that Act it provides very detailed guidelines for those offences.


Might also want to check out the CPS page on indecent images for caselaw.