Leicestershire Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach is the latest public figure to support calls for a new law to quash the criminal convictions of sexual abuse victims.
The PCC feels strongly that victims who’ve suffered at the hands of predatory paedophiles should be pardoned if forced to break the law while being groomed and described the current system as an “outrageous” way to treat survivors.
He is the latest public face to put his weight behind Sammy’s Law – a high profile campaign by abuse victim Sammy Woodhouse to introduce new legislation to absolve teenage girls of the crimes they were forced to carry out by paedophiles.
Sammy was just 14 when she was groomed by the ringleader of a Rotherham abuse gang and suffered a catalogue of abuse over many years. During her horrific ordeal she was forced to commit a number of offences for which she later received a criminal record.
Sammy took the brave step of waiving her right to anonymity to fight for other grooming victims lured into crime under the control of their abusers, in a bid to help survivors move on and improve their career prospects.
She has now written to Home Secretary Amber Rudd to support her campaign and has attracted the support of a number of public figures including Bedfordshire Chief Constable Jon Boutcher and Nottinghamshire PCC Paddy Tipping.
Commenting on the campaign, Willy Bach said: “I wholeheartedly support efforts to absolve victims of sexual abuse from the crimes they’ve committed while under the control of manipulative, predatory abusers. These victims are already left with the psychological and physical scars of their harrowing experiences and it is outrageous that our justice system should seek to punish them further with a criminal record for offences committed under severe duress.
“Survivors of sexual abuse whether through grooming or modern slavery must never be held accountable or to blame for the terrible experiences they’ve suffered at the hands of abusers intent on control and manipulation.”
The former barrister and shadow attorney general has prioritised the victim’s perspective since coming into post in May 2016 and has invested in a number of projects to safeguard vulnerable people at risk of abuse and help victims recover.
“I know from my professional experience how critical it is for victims of sexual abuse to feel validated and supported when justice is taking its course,” he added.
“Removing the fear or threat of prosecution for crimes committed during their abuse will help many more victims take the brave step of coming forward to police and stopping their attacker from harming anyone else.”
Many victims of child sexual exploitation are forced to commit crimes by their abusers as a means of preventing them from alerting the police. This may have prevented victims from seeking help in the past for fear they will be charged with the offences they have committed during the grooming process.
More than 1,400 children were sexual abused in Rotherham from 1997 to 2013 in what has become one of the biggest sexual exploitation scandals exposed in the UK.
Last year, eight men who sexually abused three teenage girls in the town between 1999 and 2003, were jailed at Sheffield Crown Court after being convicted of 16 charges including rape, false imprisonment and indecent assault.
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Posted on Thursday 5th October 2017