Judges got it wrong in the past when sentencing child sex offenders and the current judiciary should not be forced to perpetuate those errors, a judge says.
NSW District Court Judge Peter Berman SC said judges should be able to impose sentences they deem to be correct rather than be forced to impose ones they know to be wrong.
In a submission to the child sex abuse royal commission, Judge Berman said he always found it amazing that judges were required to sentence in accordance with sentencing standards that existed at the time of the offending.
"Over the years there has come about an appreciation that judges have, in the past, failed to appreciate such things as the effect of sexual assaults upon the victim of such offences," the judge said.
"To put it bluntly we now know that those old sentencing practices were wrong.
"Current law in New South Wales requires judges to perpetuate the errors of the past.
"Surely it would be better to impose a sentence which we now think to be a correct one rather than to be forced to impose a sentence which we know to be wrong."
Australian jurisdictions generally sentence by applying historical sentencing standards.
The royal commission is looking at whether child sexual abuse offenders should be sentenced in accordance with the sentencing standards at the time of sentencing instead of at the time of the offending, as now occurs in England and Wales.
Its consultation paper noted Victorian legislation directs the sentencing court to have regard to current sentencing practices and South Australia provides for current sentencing standards to apply in cases of multiple or persistent child sex abuse, regardless of when the offending occurred.
Judge Berman also backed the creation of a specific offence for failing to report child sex abuse, such as exists in Victoria.
"(For) too long, many people aware of child sexual abuse offences having occurred have preferred to say nothing," he said.
The royal commission on Thursday published more than 70 submissions it received on criminal justice issues ahead of a public hearing in Sydney next week.