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Call to allow sex offenders to be named

Sheelagh Cooper

A children’s charity has called for the law to be amended so that victims of sexual offences or their families can decide whether a convicted offender’s name is made public.

According to Sheelagh Cooper, there is no legal provision that grants victims of such offences the right to waive their anonymity, therefore allowing for the convicted offender to be named.

The founder and chairwoman of the Coalition for the Protection of Children spoke to The Royal Gazette after a former police officer was last month jailed for 15 years for the sexual exploitation of his daughter and incest. However, his name could not legally be published by the media.

Mrs Cooper says failing to name sex offenders means that parents do not know who poses a risk to their children.

“Essentially, the legislation prevents the naming of a convicted sexual offender, or convicted offender of any moral offence, if that would lead to the identification of the victim,” Mrs Cooper said.

“We are suggesting to amend the legislation to give victims or the victims’ families that option.

“I realise that the stated purpose of the prohibition is the protection of the victim’s identity but we make the point that the law should be amended to allow the victim or the victim’s parents to decide whether the convicted person’s name is published.”

Mrs Cooper said that in 25 years she has never met a victim of a sexual offence, or a victim’s family, who did not want the convicted offender’s name published.

She added that in most cases involving sexual offences there is some type of relationship between the defendant and the complainant, which means the identity of the perpetrators is protected.

“Because of the laws that prevent the media from naming the convicted offender, we, the public, will never know who it is that we need to protect our children from,” she said.

“Time after time we have had child molesters convicted and still their names withheld, which protects the identity of the offender.”

How the media handles the description of a case is also important, according to Mrs Cooper, who called on media organisations to liaise with each other about how such cases are presented to the public.

Because some in the media previously revealed the nature of the charges the defendant in the Supreme Court case was facing, his name could not be revealed at any stage — even after conviction — because this would have immediately identified the victim.

Mrs Cooper said that if it had never been revealed that the charges were incest, the defendant in the Supreme Court case could have been named upon conviction.