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England and Wales: Child Sex Offender Detained Indefinitely to Protect the Public

(Jun 16, 2011) A British teacher, Nigel Leat, was recently convicted of numerous child sex offenses, including 36 sexual assaults and attempted rape. Leat was also found in possession of 30,500 indecent photographs and 720 indecent movies. These offenses were committed at the school in which he worked, against children in his care. The judge hearing the case, Neil Ford QC, described Leat as manipulative and wicked and found that he “represent[ed] a serious risk to young girls.” (Abuse Teacher Jailed Indefinitely, THE INDEPENDENT (London) (June 14, 2011).)

Due to the nature of the offenses and the risk that Leat poses to the public, the judge sentenced Leat to an indeterminate period of detention, with the first possibility of parole being in eight and a half years. This period of eight and a half years is the punitive part of the period of imprisonment and is meant to be retributive and to deter others from committing such crimes. It is commonly referred to as a 'tariff' period and is the minimum period that Leat must serve. Once this period has been served, Leat is not automatically eligible to be released from prison at any later date; there is no set maximum sentence that he must serve. Instead, in order to be released, he must show the Parole Board that he does not pose a risk of harm to the public. Thus, after the tariff period has been served Leat will continue to be imprisoned for as long as the Parole Board deems him to pose such a risk. (Criminal Justice Act 2003, c. 44; THE INDEPENDENT, supra; Sentencing – Dangerous Offenders, The Crown Prosecution Service website (last updated Apr. 21, 2010).)