Sexual offences

The definitions inform the UK laws which then stipulate what constitute a sexual offence. Furthermore, each nation has a legislative framework to protect children from adults who may pose a risk of sexual harm and to deal with adults who have sexually offended against children. The legislation makes it clear what constitutes a sexual offence against a child and states what is an appropriate sentence.

According to UK Law (England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland), there are specific offences relating to accessing sexual images of children, that you can be penalised for. Here is a list of the sexual offences that relate to children created for:

England and Wales (Sexual Offences Act, 2003)

  • Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent (s.4)
  • Rape of a child under 13 (s.5)
  • Assault of a child under 13 by penetration (s.6)
  • Sexual assault of a child under 13 (s.7)
  • Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity (s.8)
  • Sexual activity with a child (s.9)
  • Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity (s.10)
  • Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child (s.11)
  • Causing a child to watch a sexual act (s.12)
  • Child sex offences committed by children or young persons (s.13)
  • Arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence (s.14)
  • Meeting a child following sexual grooming etc. (s.15)
  • Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child (s.16)
  • Abuse of position of trust: causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity (s.17)
  • Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child (s.18)
  • Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch a sexual act (s.19)
  • Sexual activity with a child family member (s.25)
  • Inciting a child family member to engage in sexual activity (s.26)
  • Paying for sexual services of a child (s.47)
  • Causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography (s.48)
  • Controlling a child prostitute or a child involved in pornography (s.49)
  • Arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography (s.50)
  • Exposure (s.66)
  • Voyeurism (s.67)

Northern Ireland (Sexual Offences Order, 2008)

  • Rape of a child under 13 (art. 12)
  • Assault of a child under 13 by penetration (art. 13)
  • Sexual assault of a child under 13 (art. 14)
  • Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity (art. 15)
  • Sexual activity with a child (art. 16)
  • Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity (art. 17)
  • Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child (art. 18)
  • Causing a child to watch a sexual act (art. 19)
  • Sexual offences against children committed by children or young persons (art. 20)
  • Arranging or facilitating commission of a sex offence against a child (art. 21)
  • Meeting a child following sexual grooming etc. (art. 22)
  • Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity with a child (art. 23)
  • Abuse of position of trust: causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity (art. 24)
  • Abuse of position of trust: sexual activity in the presence of a child (art. 25)
  • Abuse of position of trust: causing a child to watch a sexual act (art. 26)
  • Sexual activity with a child family member (art. 32)
  • Inciting a child family member to engage in sexual activity (art. 33)
  • Paying for sexual services of a child (art. 37)
  • Causing or inciting child prostitution or pornography (art. 38)
  • Controlling a child prostitute or a child involved in pornography (art. 39)
  • Arranging or facilitating child prostitution or pornography (art. 40)
  • Indecent photographs of persons aged 16 or 17 (art. 42)
  • Exposure (art. 70)
  • Voyeurism (art. 71)

Scotland (Sexual Offences Act, 2009)

  • Rape of a young child (s.18)
  • Sexual assault on a young child by penetration (s.19)
  • Sexual assault on a young child (s.20)
  • Causing a young child to participate in a sexual activity (s.21)
  • Causing a young child to be present during a sexual activity (s.22)
  • Causing a young child to look at a sexual image (s.23)
  • Communicating indecently with a young child etc. (s.24)
  • Sexual exposure to a young child (s.25)
  • Voyeurism towards a young child (s.26)
  • Having intercourse with an older child (s.28)
  • Engaging in penetrative sexual activity with or towards an older child (s.29)
  • Engaging in sexual activity with or towards an older child (s.30)
  • Causing an older child to participate in a sexual activity (s.31)
  • Causing an older child to be present during a sexual activity (s.32)
  • Causing an older child to look at a sexual image (s.33)
  • Communicating indecently with an older child etc. (s.34)
  • Sexual exposure to an older child (s.35)
  • Voyeurism towards an older child (s.36)
  • Older children engaging in sexual conduct with each other (s.37)

Other offences under the former law include

  • Sexual intercourse with a female over 12 years but under 13 years, s.3(1) of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act, 1976 (c.67); and with a female over 13 years but under 16 years, s.4(1) of the same Act.
  • Lewd, indecent or libidinous practices, common law; with a female over 12 years but under 16 years, s.5 of the 1976 Act.
  • Child pornography, ss.52 and 52A of the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982)(c.45).
  • Incest, s.2A. of the 1976 Act, added by the Incest and Related Offences (Scotland) Act (1986)(c.36), s.1; formerly the Incest Act (1567) (c.15).
  • Intercourse with a stepchild, s.2B of the 1976 Act (added by the 1986 Act).
  • Bestiality.

For further information you can access the Sexual Offences Definitive Guideline published by the Sentencing Council which is effective from April 2014. It can be found on www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk

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