University Of Tasmania

File(s) under permanent embargo

Sentencing Sexual Offenders in the UK and Australia

posted on 2023-05-22, 10:53 authored by Catherine WarnerCatherine Warner
Criticisms have been directed at sentencing for rape and sexual offences on the grounds that courts treat offenders too leniently and that as in other areas ofrape law, the phallocentrism ofsentencing principle and practice reinforces a social construction of sexuality which harms women and some men. In England critics have suggested that courts have failed to adhere to the Billam guidelines by continuing to impose noncustodial or very short custodial sentences in a significant minority of cases (Robertshaw 1994; Lacey and Wells 1998, p. 402). Lees (1997, p. 122) has complained that while sentences for rape increased after Billam, the effect ofthe changes has been exaggerated and that since 1987 the length of sentences has decreased. 1 In Australia, sentencing for rape is said to be too lenient. Respondents in a national survey complained of a lack of consistency within states and territories and across states and territories and also of leniency in comparison with sentences for other crimes (Bargen and Fishwick 1995, p. 109). These criticisms have not been confined to the common law world. In Germany, for example, dissatisfaction with the relativities between sentencing levels for rape and other crimes resulted in changes to the penalties for rape after publicity given to a case in which a couple who were camping were attacked. The woman was raped and the man was threatened with a weapon and robbed ofhis tent. The sentence for the rape was subject to a minimum oftwo years but for the armed robbery the minimum was five years.


Publication title

Sentencing and Society: International Perspectives


C Tata and N Hutton






Faculty of Law


Ashgate Publishing Limited

Place of publication




Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Justice and the law not elsewhere classified

Usage metrics