A new law designed to bring child groomers to justice is now in force.
As of 3 April, 2017, anyone aged 18 or over who intentionally communicates with a child under 16, acting for a sexual purpose and where the communication is sexual or intended to elicit a sexual response can be sent to jail for a maximum of two years, and will automatically be placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
The offence applies to online and offline communication, including social media, e-mail, texts, letters, and other forms of communication. For more information, please see section 67 of the Serious Crime Act.
Slater and Gordon’s specialist team of abuse lawyers are pleased this legislation is now in effect, with the law taking a positive step towards safeguarding vulnerable children. For two years police forces have been unable to use a new law to bring sexual predators to justice, due to government delays.
The new law will only apply where the defendant can be shown to have acted for the purposes of obtaining sexual gratification. This distinction has been created to ensure that ordinary discussions such as family chats on safe sex guidance or discussions in an educational context, will not be caught by the offence.
The offence applies to online and offline communication, including social media, e-mail, texts, letters, and other forms of communication.
With many online communication forums encrypted, it is unclear how predatory behaviour will be detected. This addition to the Serious Crime Act means that offenders attempting to groom children will be targeted by law enforcement in a more focused way, meaning perpetrators will be brought to justice much sooner, potentially saving many children from suffering in the future.
It is therefore integral that we ensure the proper funding that the police require to enable them to protect children and use this law to its maximum effect.
Kim Harrison is a principal lawyer specialising in child abuse claims at Slater and Gordon in Manchester.
Slater and Gordon’s expert team of abuse lawyers are currently representing over 800 survivors of abuse and offer a free consultation for anyone affected by child abuse.
We offer a free and completely confidential consultation to anyone affected by sexual abuse. Call us anytime 24/7 on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online.