Thank you for contacting me about changing the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the ‘Close the Loophole’ campaign by the NSPCC. I have read your email carefully and noted the key points that you raise.
I share your concern about this hugely important issue and I agree that the protection of children and young people must remain a priority. I want to pay tribute to those who have spoken out about child sex abuse.
As I am sure you are aware, sexual activity with a child under the age of 16 is a serious criminal offence, regardless of whether consent is given. It is also the case that any non-consensual sexual activity is a crime, regardless of the age of the victim or the relationship between the victim and perpetrator. It is my understanding that it is also the case that where a manipulative offender grooms a child under the age of consent and then engages in a sexual relationship with them when they are over 16, offences are in place to deal with this such as Section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
I welcome the fact that the Sexual Offences Act 2003 also provides increased protection for younger people aged 16 and 17. Offences criminalise those in a position of trust who sexually abuse young people in their care. The offences target relationships where the young person has some dependency on the adult involved and often combined with an element of vulnerability of that young person.
I am pleased that the Government has committed to change the law around ‘positions of trust’ in the Sexual Offences Act 2003. I will work closely with the Government to ensure sports coaches are included as part of these legislative changes.
I hope this has provided some reassurance that the Government is committed to doing all it can to protect children and young people.
Thank you again for writing to me about this important issue.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking