Consultation on child sexual exploitation law launched

Date published: 19 February 2019

The Department of Justice today published a consultation which includes proposed measures to strengthen the law to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse.

The consultation invites views on current laws which protect children from sexual exploitation and proposed measures to strengthen some laws where appropriate.

Views are sought from interested parties and individuals, particularly those who have experience in dealing with child sexual exploitation.

Permanent Secretary for the Department of Justice, Peter May said: “We want to ensure that the legal framework for protecting children is up to date, appropriate and effective in all aspects, including emerging trends such as online and technology-based abuse. These laws are essential, not just to protect children and young people from abuse, but also to bring perpetrators to justice. The outcome of this consultation will contribute towards creating a safe community by ensuring that the law relating to these issues remains valid and appropriate. I would encourage everyone with an interest in protecting children to access the consultation and give your views on these important issues.”

The consultation looks at existing criminal law relating to a number of specific areas including: indecent images of children; grooming and online exploitation; child abduction; child sex dolls and sexual offences involving abuse of trust. It also proposes additional measures to assist in dealing with ‘up-skirting’ and strengthened police powers to prevent and stop exploitation and abuse.

This consultation exercise will allow proposals to be developed in readiness for consideration by a future Justice Minister. Any legislative changes arising from the consultation proposals will need the approval of a Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Child sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse where a child or young person is exploited, coerced or manipulated into engaging in sexual activity in return for something the child needs or wants and/or for the gain of those who perpetrate or facilitate the abuse.
  2. The consultation will run from 19 February 2019 to 16 April 2019.
  3. Responses to the consultation can be submitted online via Citizen Space on the NIDirect website
  4. If you require a copy of the consultation in an alternative format please contact the Department: by email by telephoning 028 9016 9584; or in writing to Criminal Policy Branch, Criminal Justice Policy and Legislation Division, Department of Justice, Massey House, Stormont Estate, Belfast, BT4 3SX.
  5. For all media queries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer 028 9037 8110.

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