Thursday, July 27, 2006

Police Shame

This is an horrendous story, particularly in light of my previous entry where three police officers turned up to question the parents of a toddler who kicked a ball against the fence of an off-duty colleague for "causing a disturbance". Seems that they can spring into action when one of their mates calls in, but when it's a member of the public it's a different matter altogether. And no, this isn't an isolated incident either.

The family of a three year old girl who was abducted and then repeatedly sexually assaulted are filing a civil action against the police for failing to protect their daughter.

The girl's mother said she was angry that the police had not immediately arrested Sweeney after she told police his name and where he lived in a frantic phone call moments after her child was snatched.

Despite the fact that the police had the necessary information to get to the kidnapper's home, probably before even he did, they failed to take any action. Instead the predator had time to drive the child back to his home and repeatedly attack her. He was only caught later after a police patrol caught him running a red light. And that's not all.

A senior inspector and a superintendent from South Wales Police now face a misconduct panel for failing in their duties. A third officer involved in the case has since retired and will face no further action.

A "misconduct panel". Sounds awfully lenient for such a colossal screw-up. The Independent Police Commission rejected the notion that had police responded immedaitely to the call from the girl's mother that the sexual assault could have been been prevented- which is odd considering that they were given the man's name and address immediately. They didn't even have to do any police work- just go to his house. Instead the IPC noted deficiencies and inadequacies- and then went on to praise the local force for their "positive response" to this light criticism. And why the hell should a third officer escape any responsibility for failing to do his job simply because he's retired? Instead of throwing the book at these pathetic individuals it seems like they'll get off with little more than a black mark in their records.

As infuriating as it is, the police are not the only ones to blame. As always seems to be the case with stories about paedophiles, the scumbag in question here had a record-

Sweeney had already been convicted of sexually assaulting a six-year-old child when he snatched the girl. He was jailed for life but his licence period for the earlier attack had expired just days before he struck again.

What the hell was he doing out on the streets where he had the opportunity to molest another young child? How many times do we have to hear about sex offenders attacking people again before the message gets through that they have no place in our society? Let's just take a moment here- Sweeney, the one responsible for this little girl's ordeal, had previously been convicted of indecently assaulting a six year old girl. How long did he get for that crime? Well, he was released early from a mere three year sentence. So, by the age of twenty four he was back out on the streets and capable of committing his most recent crime. How long will he serve now, with a repeated attack on a three year old, at least his second crime? Will life actually mean life now? Of course not.

In June, he was again jailed for life after admitting four charges of kidnap, three of sexual assault and one of dangerous driving.

John Reid, the Home Secretary, criticised the judge after he told Sweeney he could apply for parole after five years and 108 days but Lord Goldsmith, the Attorney General, said the law had been applied correctly.

The family is due to meet the Attorney General this week to demand tougher sentences for child sex offenders.

So in less than six years he could be back out on the streets. There had been an effort to get his sentence referred to the Court of Appeal but it failed.

Attorney General Lord Goldsmith has decided not to challenge the minimum sentence of a man who sexually abused a three-year-old girl.

Lord Goldsmith will not ask the Court of Appeal to review the sentence because he has concluded it is not "unduly lenient".

So a repeat child sex offender could be out after kidnapping and assaulting a three year old in less than six years and that isn't unduly lenient? What planet is this guy living on?

While the Home Secretary criticises the judge, the judges criticise the government- for setting the sentencing guidelines that they are working by in the first place. Perhaps now the government will be forced to take action to make sentencing tougher- a hell of a lot tougher- for those who prey on the most vulnerable segment of our society.

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