Mr Williams said that following an answer provided by Northern Ireland Office Minister John Spellar MP in the House of Commons it appeared that parts of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 will be introduced to Northern Ireland.
“I am delighted that Mr Spellar has indicated the willingness of Government to make sure that the same protections offered to children and young people in England and Wales are available in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“The sections of the Sexual Offences Act that Mr Spellar was answering his question are vital to protect children and young people from sexual predators.
“When these are introduced in Northern Ireland they will provide more clear definitions and sentencing guidelines as well as introducing new offences.
“Mr Spellar has indicated that he plans to bring forward draft legislation for consultation early next year. I would urge Mr Spellar to ensure this happens as quickly as the consultation process allows, in order that children, young people and anyone potentially vulnerable to sexual predators will be protected, and that those guilty of preying on them receive sentences in line with the severity of these crimes.”
Notes for Editors
ST 46 26 October 2004
1.Further information on the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found on www.niccy.org
2. While a number of aspects of the Sexual Offences Act, namely part 2 and provisions on grooming and abuse of trust extend to Northern Ireland, sections 1-14 do not apply as yet.
3. Sections 1-14 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 introduce a number of new offences and increase the tariffs for others in England and Wales only. In particular, the legislation sets out important new laws to give children under 13 extra protection. The law makes clear that sexual activity with a child under 13 is never acceptable, and regardless of circumstances, children of this age cannot legally give consent. All penetrative sexual activity (including penetration of the mouth) with a child under 13 will automatically be clarified as rape with a maximum life penalty. Other offences, including assault by penetration (with an object or part of the body) and sexual assault (any kind of sexual touching) will automatically be classified as rape with a possible life penalty.
The Act introduces a number of redefined offences, new offences and increased tariffs establishing a new legal framework for the protection of all children from abuse. These include:
Revised/redefined offences and increased tariffs
ST 46 26 October 2004
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