Saturday, October 13, 2007

U.K. Offers New Hate Crime Protections

New legislation which will strengthen the protection to the public from sex offenders and hate crime has been set out in proposals by the UK's Government.
Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw signalled in the House of Commons the Government's intention to introduce amendments to the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill.
The new legislation will allow police, probation and prison services to notify members of the public if a sex offender poses a risk to children.
A further proposal will create a new offence which would extend protection already provided for religious and racial groups to gay, lesbian and bisexual people.
Justice Secretary Jack Straw said:
"It is a measure of how far we have come as a society in the last 10 years that we are now appalled by hatred and invective directed at people on the basis of their sexuality. It is time for the law to recognise this."
Equalities Secretary Harriet Harman said,
"Fighting hatred, prejudice and discrimination will be at the heart of everything this government does."
The new law would not prohibit criticism of gay, lesbian and bisexual people, but it would protect them from incitement to hatred against them because of their sexual orientation.
The amendment on sex offenders will put a legal duty on the MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements) agencies, which include police, probation and prison services, to consider disclosing information about convicted child sex offenders to members of the public in all cases. The presumption will be that the authorities will disclose information if they consider that an offender presents a risk of serious harm to a child.
A further amendment will also allow the Government to make changes to the information those on the sex offenders register must provide to the police. This includes requiring offenders to provide information about email addresses, new relationships with any woman who has children, and if they are living in the same house as someone under 18.
Home Secretary Jacqui Smith said:
"We are committed to protecting children from sexual predators and the proposals being laid out today will strengthen that protection.
"Children are a unique and particularly vulnerable group, as they are unable to protect themselves and are more easily manipulated than adults. Sex offences against children cause lasting harm, both to victims and their families.
"The UK already has the strongest restrictions on child sex offenders and these proposals which follow on from the publication of the Child Sex Offenders Review earlier this year will help us to continue doing all we can to protect them."
The Justice Secretary has also indicated that the Government will listen to views on whether the incitement offence should be further extended to cover hatred against disabled and transgendered people. The Government is ready to bring hatred against disabled and transgendered people within the offence if a case for this can be made.
He also said he wanted to review the law on self defence. He said;
"There can be no justice in a system which makes the victim the criminal. So I want to look again at the law on self defence to ensure the focus is right and that those who act proportionately are not treated like criminals. My aim is to complete the review in time to allow for this issue to be addressed in this Bill."

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