Offences against Children

Ministry of Justice written question – answered on 12th July 2019.

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Photo of Lisa Forbes Lisa Forbes Labour, Peterborough

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice, what steps his Department is taking to safeguard 16 and 17 year-olds from being groomed by adults in a position of power and influence.

Photo of Edward Argar Edward Argar The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice

I recognise that there are concerns about those who might abuse their position of power over a 16 or 17-year-old to pressure them into engaging in a sexual relationship. Such behaviour is very likely to be caught by the robust laws we already have in place. Any sexual activity with a child under 16 is a criminal offence, regardless of whether consent is given. Any non-consensual sexual activity is also a crime, whatever the age of the victim and whatever the relationship between the victim and perpetrator.

However, we remain absolutely committed to protecting children and young people from sexual abuse and we want to ensure that existing offences are being used effectively to tackle this behaviour, and that those working with young people understand their responsibilities and act appropriately.

My department, working closely with colleagues across government, is taking forward a review of the existing law, to check that that it is working effectively and ensuring young people are protected.

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