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The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Received Royal Assent in November Came into force on 1 May The Act is split into two parts: sexual offences; offenders with an emphasis on the protection of vulnerable individuals.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Clarified the law Created new offences Strengthened sentences Stopped discrimination Improved protection from known sex offenders Improved protection for people with mental disorders
Abuse of Trust
Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act (1) Subject to subsections (2) and (3) below, it shall be an offence for a person aged 18 or over- (a) to have sexual intercourse (whether vaginal or anal) with a person under that age; or (b) to engage in any other sexual activity with or directed towards such a person, if (in either case) he is in a position of trust in relation to that person
Abuse of Trust Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000 sets out a series of occupations to which the law applies: Young Offenders Institution. Accommodation provided under statutory provision. Hospitals, independent clinics, care homes, private hospitals, children's homes etc. Educational institutions.
Sexual Offences Act 2003 …..introduces additional occupations: services under the Learning and Skills Act 2000; provision of accommodation to young people; someone who reports to a court on their welfare; Personal Advisers; in official capacity on a regular basis when they are subject to a care order, supervision order, or education supervision order; Guardians; and individually after release from detention or in pursuance of a court order.... includes YOTs and treatment providers.
Abuse of Trust Provisions Protection for young people aged 16 and 17. Offence for those in a position of trust to engage in sexual activity with a person under 18. Where someone is in a position of power or influence.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Rape and Consent There are three new measures on the issue of consent: Statutory definition: agree by choice with freedom/ capacity to make choice. All the circumstances at the time of the offence will be looked at in. Consent unlikely where threats or fear of serious harm, etc. Designed to redress the balance in favour of victims.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Child Sex Abuse Closes loophole on consent. Intercourse with under 13s will be treated as rape. Includes other non-consensual offences.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 New offences concerning children under 16. Covers a range of behaviour. Offences also apply to persons under 18.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Prosecutions of persons under 18 Age of consent is 16. Children of similar ages unlikely to be prosecuted where the activity is mutually agreed. CPS has issued guidance.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Abusive parents and carers New familial child sex offences. Abuse of trust provisions amended and re- enacted.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Grooming New offence of meeting a child following sexual grooming. Maximum sentence is 10 years imprisonment. Risk of Sexual Harm Order.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Sex Tourists Those convicted abroad to comply with notification requirements. New foreign travel banning order. Risk of Sexual Harm Order.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 Other Offences in the Act Trafficking. Abuse of children through prostitution and pornography.
Implications for Professionals
Survey 53% - confidentiality was top concern 64% - less likely to seek advice if they knew health workers could pass on information 74% - less likely to seek advice.
Fraser Guidelines Adults competent to decide their own treatment. Family Law Reform Act 1969 gives the right to consent to anyone aged 16 to 18. Those under 16 can consent if they have sufficient maturity and judgement. Clarified in England and Wales by the House of Lords in the case of Gillick vs West Norfolk and Wisbech AHA & DHSS in 1985.
Fraser Guidelines Lawful for doctors to provide advice and treatment without parental consent providing the professional is satisfied that the young person: will understand the advice; cannot be persuaded to inform their parents; is likely to begin, or to continue having, intercourse with or without contraceptive treatment; unless they receive treatment, their physical or mental health, or both, are likely to suffer; their best interests require them to receive advice or treatment with or without parental consent.
Fraser Guidelines Although these criteria refer to contraception, principles deemed to apply to other treatments, including abortion. Judgement referred specifically to doctors but it is considered to apply to other health professionals. If a person under the age of 18 refuses to consent to treatment, it is possible in some cases for their parents or the courts to overrule their decision. Can only be exercised on the basis that the welfare of the young person is paramount.
Fraser Guidelines Guidance issued in 1986 updated in Does not change the legal framework established in the Gillick case. Duty of confidentiality is not absolute. Where there is a risk to health, safety or welfare which outweighs the young person's right to privacy, professionals should follow child protection protocols. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 does not affect the duty of care and confidentiality.
Fraser Guidelines The Act states that, a person is not guilty of aiding, abetting or counselling a sexual offence against a child where they are acting for the purpose of: protecting a child from pregnancy or sexually transmitted infection, protecting the physical safety of a child, promoting a child’s emotional well-being by the giving of advice.
Safeguarding Children: Working Together under the Children Act 2004 Cases involving under 13s should always be discussed with a nominated child protection lead. Presumption of report to social services. Involve children’s social services, police and relevant agencies. All cases should be fully documented.
Safeguarding Children: Working Together under the Children Act 2004 Sexual activity with a child aged 13 to 15 is also an offence. Consideration … in every case … as to whether there should be a discussion with other agencies and whether a referral should be made to … social services. Cases of concern should be discussed with the nominated child protection lead and subsequently with other agencies if required.
Safeguarding Children: Working Together under the Children Act 2004 The age of the child; The level of maturity and understanding of the child; … the child’s living circumstances or background; Age imbalance; Overt aggression or power imbalance; Coercion or bribery; Familial child sex offences; Behaviour of the child i.e. withdrawn, anxious; The misuse of substances as a disinhibitor; Whether the child’s own behaviour, because of substance misuse, means he/she is unable to make an informed choice; Whether any attempts to secure secrecy have been made by the sexual partner, beyond what would be considered usual; …. the child denies, minimises or accepts concerns; Whether the methods used are consistent with grooming; and Whether the sexual partner/s is known by one of the agencies.
Safeguarding Children: Working Together under the Children Act 2004 In cases of concern, agency concerned should check with other agencies. Police should normally share the required information without beginning a full investigation.
Safeguarding Children: Working Together under the Children Act 2004 Sexual activity involving a 16 or 17 year old. Professionals should share information as appropriate. Offence if person holds a position of trust or authority in relation to the young person.
"Young people especially, as they embark upon their sexual and reproductive lives, must be able to protect themselves from disease, abuse and exploitation. They have a right to information and services” Gro Harlem Brundtland, Director General, World Health Organisation ( )