Why is Scotland no longer jailing all rapists?
Young offenders are being let off the hook
In January 2022, new sentencing guidelines came into force in Scotland that required judges to make rehabilitation, rather than punishment, their primary consideration when sentencing under-25s — thereby introducing a formal presumption against prison for younger suspects.
At the High Court in Glasgow on Monday, 21-year-old Sean Hogg became a beneficiary of these new guidelines, when he was spared jail for raping a 13-year-old girl in Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian. “This offence, if committed by an adult over 25, [would] attract a sentence of four or five years,” the judge said during sentencing. He instead ordered Hogg to carry out 270 hours of unpaid work and placed him on the sex offenders register for three years.
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The response, understandably, has been one of outrage: J.K. Rowling tweeted that “young Scottish men are effectively being told ‘first time’s free’”, while the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland said the charity was “shocked”. After all, given the strong correlation between age and crime, these new guidelines effectively presume against prison for almost half of all violent criminals.
In England and Wales, for instance, 43% of people convicted of homicide in 2021/22 were under 25 at the time of conviction — a figure that actually understates the size of the age skew, since there is significant time lag before a case comes to court (longer in recent years due to funding cuts). Sexual offences are also disproportionately likely to be committed by young men: one typical study found 46% of rapists to be under the age of 25, 17% under the age of 18, and 15% under 15. ONS data from recent years goes some way to supporting this. In other words, violent crime is very much a young man’s game.
The infantilisation of these young men is in keeping with a broader trend in the UK criminal justice system. As Scottish Conservative MSP Russell Findlay recently observed, many other offenders have been spared jail thanks to their relative youth, including a 17-year-old gang leader who left a firefighter with life-changing injuries. It is already the case that offenders given a so-called “life sentence” on average spend just 17 years in prison — which, given the youth of most violent offenders, often means being released back into the community before the age of 40. The system is already failing, and treating criminals under the age of 25 with even greater leniency will only make it worse.
It is also wildly out of step with public opinion. A majority of the public consistently tell pollsters that they would like the criminal justice system to be harsher, with only 2% of respondents in a 2022 YouGov poll saying sentences are currently “too harsh”. Perversely, the SNP has proposed lowering the voting age to 16, and already permits 16-year-olds to apply for a gender-recognition certificate. In Scotland, it seems that it is only criminals who are considered too young to make decisions.
In Scotland we are told that under 25s can’t take full responsibility for their crimes yet 16 year olds can consent to irreversible surgery because they are confused over their sexuality and ‘gender’.
Presumably wearing a kilt makes that “irreversible surgery “ easier?
They can also vote. Which is partly why the SNP / Greens are still in power to do these things.
I wish I could give more than one upvote. Both Labour and SNP want votes for sixtenn-year-olds. They are mature enough to vote, but not to be punished for crime, apparently.
Whilst in good old England you can get three years for shouting at a geriatric riding a bicycle on the pavement!
Ah but the vile criminal was not under 25 but just nervous alarmed and partially sighted. I should have shouted myself in that situation. A pity the cyclist didn’t apply the hand breaks and stop instead of cycling into traffic. I can’t see how that was the shouter’s fault but idiocy prevails.
Nor was the ‘she’ (the 77 year old cyclist) wearing a helmet.
Neither the Police nor the Local Authority could either confirm or deny whether the pavement in question was a ‘shared space’ three years ago in 2020.
However, astonishingly the Judge stated it was a ‘shared space’ in his summing up!
Not a good day for British Justice it appears.
Indeed, not justice’s finest hour.
Riding bicycles on the pavement is a massive problem; the mother of a friend of mine was hit by one and he just rode off cursing old people for cluttering up the place (he actually did say “cluttering up”). Unfortunately the lady in question ended up with a broken hip.
The new rules of the road whereby the less vulnerable vehicle or person should give way to the more vulnerable was supposed to have made such conflicts less likely but when you have decisions like the one flagged up by Charles Stanhope one can only despair of Judges and Juries. I hope she seeks a speedy appeal.
In fact it is worse than that as this was re-trial!
So that the “nervous alarmed and partially sighted” woman was put through the trauma of a Crown Court Trial TWICE!
Back in the 1950’s when the ‘working class’* habitually used bicycles to go to and return from work, NOBODY rode on the pavement.
Not only was it a case of good manners but malefactors faced prosecution.
(* For want of an alternative word.)
“Gee, Officer Krupke, we’re very upset;
We never had the love that ev’ry child oughta get.
We ain’t no delinquents,
Deep down inside us there is good!”
The cry goes up: “We want the power to vote and change our sex but are too impulsive and fragile to be punished for our crimes”. Scotland’s policies are now ruled by the liberal indulgent parent who produces the brats that rape and kill. It’s not their fault it’s the fault of “society” “toxic masculinity” “capitalism” etc.
What happened to the adage “if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime”?
How is the SNP still in power?
Because the Scottish electorate voted them in and sadly the opposition cannae get their act together and form an alternative.
Because the SNP is the party of independence. When they have independence polls in Scotland, 40% vote ‘Yes’. In general these are the younger voters.
They have reduced the voting age to 16, hammered independence into children, lowered jail sentences for young people, etc, to court the young.
So, in any election they automatically get 40% of the vote. They are always the biggest party and, even in minority, would always be able to get other minorities to join them.
Independence is probably a bit of a red herring here. Scotland had a separate legal system pre devolution. To my mind the key part of the article is this,
‘The infantilisation of these young men is in keeping with a broader trend in the UK criminal justice system’
What we have seen in the past two decades is a real infantilisation of youth. We see it in the extended adolescence that is the post-Blair ‘student experience.’ We see it in ever-lengthening time spent in education, in the criminal justice system and so on. We see it in the demise of owner occupation where people are forced to live like students into their mid 30s. To be clear this is far from the fault of the young. If you don’t have a large number of entry level jobs open to 16 year olds then what else is there for them?
Of course the woke trend has absolutely embraced the infantilisation where identity offence is all and adult concerns like owner occupation, secure wages and robust pensions are all just secondary concerns for other people to worry about. Scotland where gender recognition and lenient sentencing is placed above the adult world is just woke being played out. Independence is seen as an instrumental thing to the woke. The true independence-minded nationalists give the impression that they welcomed the woke into their movement on the, ‘that crocodile won’t eat me,’ way of thinking. Of course in Scotland the association of woke and independence hasn’t exactly been a secret and it is hard to avoid the feeling that some people there are now just lying in a bed of their own making.
But to my mind the bigger issue here is the infantilisation of youth and the very extended adolescence foisted on the young by modern society. The sentence in the article is a symptom, not a cause, of problems. The trick will be to reverse infantilisation but we’re a long way from that.
All good words but you miss the point completely. In any election the SNP would win, either with a majority or a large minority. The SNP would win because it stands for independence.
The SNP is cynically following these ways to appeal to the young. Politicians playing at being grownups. They just want to win, whatever the consequences. Nothing to do with independence.
I know that the SNP represents independence, but it is like being an American Democrat and continuing to vote Dem. My friend from Seattle (a lifelong Dem) voted Dem again in the midterms, so I tolerated no moaning about the slide downwards of California and the Pacific North West.
Yeh. A sort of death wish. From the outside, independence for Scotland would be a disaster.
Because they are right on Socialist progressives at heart. Disintegration of their society is what it’s all about. Take note England.
They actually are not, as their endless volte-faces over major issues shows (North Sea oil?!). At one time they were known as the ‘Tartan Tories’. Their internal policies have a very tight fist over local government and any autonomy within Scotland. The constraints they impose spending on government departments and local government are hardly different in any meaningful way from those practised in England. This doesn’t mean they are competent of course!
As a recent Spectator article had it, they are just an extremely opportunistic (and incoherent) party, except for the one idee fixe of independence come what may.
No representation without taxation. Since the school leaving age was raised to 18, very few 16 & 17 year olds pay tax, so it is inappropriate for them to have a say in how tax revenues are spent.
This is the bit that I found astonishing;
for raping a 13-year-old girl in Dalkeith Country Park, Midlothian. “This offence, if committed by an adult over 25, [would] attract a sentence of four or five years,” the judge said during sentencing.
Now, bear in mind that parole usually comes half way through the sentence. An adult raping a 13-year-old would get 4-5 years and serve only two or three. Can this be real?
I too found this shocking and so looked into it – it seems that 4 years is the starting point, going up to life. Some issues that bear upon severity – statutory rape (in some jurisdictions this could include voluntary sex between a 17 and a 15 year old); and severity of rape – always a terrible thing of course, but it ranges from what Christine Ford accused Kavanagh of doing, through to Jimmy Savile and Ted Bundy.
Here in South Africa max sentence for rape is life in prison, if the Judge is lenient more like 10-15 years. If you’re in for raping a minor it’s most unlikely you’ll get out alive, the inmates will deal with you!
I see the Neo-Marxists are making good headway in Scotland as they have is San Francisco. Perhaps we should jettison Scotland from the union and let them pursue their fantasies to the fullest. We can stand over here and watch them be the first country to offer Paediphile tourist packages when they abolish the age of consent.
Who are these invisible people who impose such horrendous policies on the public generally? A 21-year old given 270 hours of unpaid work and placed on the sex offenders register for three years for raping a 13-year old girl! It is a foul injustice not only to the poor girl concerned, but a grievous insult to society at large.
Why do we tolerate such revolting policies? Is it not time for decent people to assert decency and not just demand an end to such madness, but actually terminate it?
I just shake my head in perplexity at the evil that pervades our society – not just the criminals, but those who treat them with such mild punishment and who hold victims in contempt.
Wow. This would be political suicide in America. Sexual offenders of any sort are basically regarded as the lowest form of human life, even in prison, with child molesters being at the absolute bottom.
That’s ok, many American cities, all blue, now let all sorts of violent criminals off the hook, despite having dozens of prior offenses. The only people we now seem to charge with crimes are former republican Presidents.
The poor, poor things.
The only good thing about that horrifically lenient sentence is that now the whole country knows the face of Sean Hogg and can keep that despicable sex offender away from their loved ones.
There are two solid purposes for incarceration – Protection of the public, and Deterrence, by punishment; and one dodgy one – vengeance for vengeance’s sake. The new guidelines appear to recognise the primitive desire, and ignore the complex realities: is this the SNP’s USP?
Retribution isn’t vengeance because it isn’t personal.
If they stop incarcerating people, crime victims might as well opt for vengeance. If the 13 year old victim’s 17 year old brother killed the rapist, I suppose he’d only get community service, too – being so young and all. Lenient sentencing makes vengeance the easiest option.
If this way of thinking gains more traction, the West will be returned to the days of vigilantism… The entire purpose of ceding power to the state is to civilize the often messy and inaccurate (if not unjust) act of individual retribution.
Get rid of the police. Remove all elements of punishment from “justice’. Watch the resurgence of organized crime…
This is a trend that goes well beyond the criminal justice system.
We are allowing young men and women to act and be treated like children and we have stopped instituting consequences.
This is what you get.
In January 2022, new sentencing guidelines came into force in Scotland that required judges to make rehabilitation, rather than punishment, their primary consideration when sentencing under-25s …
Yes, but what was the reason for this guideline? My understanding is that it is relying on brain science research into brain development and cognition and specifically moral reasoning that suggested such faculties were underdeveloped (2 years on average behind females) in young male adults up to the age of 25. Thus this must be given due consideration.
As others have noted below, this is ignored when considering surgery for “gender transition” (whatever that means).
Also, as some have mentioned below, science has also adequately describe what male and female mean and hence what man and woman mean but this aspect of biology is not given due attention such that trans-identifying males have access to female prisons and other female-only spaces until recently.
It seems to me what grounds a consideration of justice is a particular conception of what constitutes the progression of history, and that is a belief that can ignore reality, because if the belief is manifested often enough an alchemical transformation of society into an equitable and just one will emerge.
Perusing these comments, I didn’t see anyone make the observation that first came to my mind… perhaps rape seems less heinous in societies where casual sex is more common. “A woman’s virtue” (as we used to say) has a lower value, and hence stealing it by force receives lower punishment. This is a terrible way of thinking but seems to me to be a natural result of a social attitude towards sex that is less sacred and more profane.
There are lots of conflicting moral principles swirling around untethered to an overarching moral philosophy here. A patriarchal male violating the sacred principal of “my body my choice” should, one would think attract a savage sentence. “Who steals my purse steal trash …but he who filches from me my good name … makes me poor indeed”.wrote Shakespeare but is a girl’s good name no longer valued? Is the violation of her autonomy and person mere trash now provided the violator is young enough? If one of the purpose of imprisonment is to deter, is it no longer important to try to deter the young who are most impulsive. We are supposed to follow the science and yet what evidence is there that dishing out community service for rape is more reformatory than imprisonment? Should we not raise the age at which alcohol can be consumed to 25 to restrain the impulses of these neurologically immature individuals, and indeed restrict voting and car driving until 25 if we are determined to infantilise those under 25?
He raped a child.
Only if you think a woman who has had sex before is less valuable than one who hasn’t (which is indeed the way of “traditional” morals). If you think a woman is a human being who has a right to decide upon her own sexuality, no, rape is not more acceptable.
It’s not the woman that’s less valuable, it’s sexual congress with her that is – in this terrible way of thinking that I do not endorse but which helps explain these perplexing developments in Scottish criminal law….
You have a point, much as I hate to say it.
“judges to make rehabilitation, rather than punishment, their primary consideration when sentencing under-25s”
Is this actually a laudable goal? I think it is. The fact that prison doesn’t rehabilitate is obvious to everyone by now. So I don’t know any way to accomplish that goal that doesn’t involve being less incarceratorial and punitive with young adult offenders.
Were I this girl’s father, I would be appalled. But society as a whole has to consider more than simply the victim’s family’s opinions.
If I were the girls’ father, I’d kill him.
People in England should not be telling Scotland how to reduce sexual abuse.
We in England should be asking the Scottish how they avoided all the problems with grooming gangs that beset English cities.
Let us swallow our pride and ask for their advice.
Isn’t it plausible that Scotland do have a problem with grooming gangs but they have buried it even deeper than England?
The Pakistani/Bangladeshi population in Scotland is considerably smaller (around 50,000) and only of a size in Glasgow and Edinburgh. In England the population is around 1,500,000 and in dozens of towns and cities.
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