Covering Sex Offences

Anonymity

The victim is automatically given lifelong anonymity by the court under the Sexual Offence Amendment Act 1992 to save embarrassment and trauma

Under Section one of the Sexual Offences Amendment Act 1992 after an allegation has been made it is illegal to include, in any publication, any matter which is likely to lead members of the public to identify, during his or her, lifetime, the person who is the victim/alleged victim of that offence.

The ban includes:

  • The name
  • The address
  • The identity of any school or other educational establishment attended by them
  • Any still or moving picture of him or her

The order starts from the moment an allegation is made by the alleged victim or anyone else, even if no one is charged and it is automatic.

It remains even if the allegation is later withdrawn, where the police are told, whether the offender is prosecuted and whether anyone is convicted.

Anonymity applies to the target of an attempt to conspiracy to commit a sex act.

You have to be cause about Jigsaw identification – public putting information together and figuring out who it is referring to.

If the victim is not related to the defendant then you can print about the defendant without having to be too careful, however, in the case we saw the victim shared their surname with the defendant so you would have to be careful about what to print e.g. you could not put that it was their stepdaughter as this might lead to identification of the victim.

Jigsaw Identification

Section on bans publication of any matter that is like to lead to identification

For example, if the victim attends a large school, you could name the school as people won’t be able to identify the person, you would have to be careful about giving further information e.g. 14 year old who plays the violin – this could lead to identification as there might not be many 14 year old violinists at the school

You need to check the information that other publications are printing, if all publications give different bits of information about the victim – all publications would be in breach of the Act if this happened.

If the case is within a family then the publications should agree beforehand about printing the name and omit the relationship or not identify the adult defender and describe the abuse.

Media organisations can be fined for inadvertently publishing material which breaches the act.

In some circumstances the other can be lifted or varied to enable the media to report a case:

Only four ways you can identify a victim of a sex attack:

  1. If they die
  2. If they have signed a waiver to lift their anonymity
  3. If they have lied and made a false allegation
  4. If they are convicted of a crime and use the fact they were a victim of a sex offence as mitigation

Challenging Court Orders

You can challenge all order imposed by the court except in sex cases because victims of sexual offences have automatic anonymity.

As a journalist it is important for me to know the laws, this will help me from been sued, fined and will help to keep my reputation in tacked. I want to be a trustworthy, truthful and follow the guidelines. If I was to go into court journalism these are key as, you can ask for the anonymity to be lifted, if it is the public’s interest.

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