CPS hits back at “jail for STI” reports
The Crown Prosecution Service has said that reports that more people might be jailed for passing on sexually transmitted infections are inaccurate.
In a statement to PinkNews.co.uk, the service revealed that a policy consultation process with medical and voluntary sector experts has only just finished and that no policy directions have been finalised.
Newspaper reports on the first draft of the consultation speculated that the CPS were planning to increase the number of prosecutions and jail people who knowingly pass on STIs other than HIV.
A spokesman for the CPS said, “It is not a ‘crackdown’.
“The purpose of the policy will not be to prosecute more people but to ensure that decisions are taken consistently by experienced prosecutors.
“The policy will also make it clear to the public in what circumstances a prosecution may follow.
“We will now be appraising very carefully the issues raised in the consultation responses and checking the draft policy to make sure it can be applied fairly to all parts of the population.”
The CPS statement echoes the call from HIV health charity Terrence Higgins Trust for decisions to prosecute to be consistent.
Lisa Power, Head of Policy at THT, told PinkNews.co.uk, “we are one of several agencies who have been working with CPS to try and get the messy current situation clarified.
“We are strongly opposed to prosecutions for reckless transmissions and we are very concerned about the random and arbitrary way in which prosecutions seem to be taking place.”
The CPS confirmed that they are also considering how the policy should apply to other STIs, but confirmed the majority of prosecutions to date have dealt with HIV.
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The Service, which is responsible for public prosecutions of people charged with criminal offences in England and Wales, said that further legal and medical advice would delay the final policy statement, which will not be published until this summer.
THT are concerned that the current prosecutions policy is restigmatising HIV “at a rate of knots.”
“We have no objection to prosecution where someone uses HIV as a weapon.
“But there is a general consensus in sexual health sector that current prosecutions are a bad idea,” explained Ms Power.
THT are also worried that the threat of prosecutions might make drive vulnerable people away from seeking medical advice.
“If people cannot trust that they can confide in their doctor, they may become reluctant to discuss difficulties with safe sex.”