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Additional crimes part of update to sexual offences law

News | Published:

OFFENCES of grooming, upskirting and voyeurism in relation to children are all set to become clearer in law, as well as teacher-teenager relationships.

Home Affairs president Deputy Mary Lowe. (Picture by Peter Frankkland, 26916818)

In 2011, a policy letter detailed proposals which aimed to modernise and reform the sexual offences legislation in the Bailiwick. It had recommendations to provide 'a clear and coherent framework' of offences and to formalise and extend measures already in place to protect the public and reduce the risk posed to vulnerable members of the community.

Now, Home Affairs has lodged a policy letter for consideration by the States which proposes the inclusion of additional offences in the law.

Subject to its approval, Home Affairs hopes to bring the Sexual Offences (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Law, 2020 before the States for backing before the end of this political term.

Committee president Deputy Mary Lowe said the introduction of sexual offences legislation which is fit for the time is so important and had been one of the committee’s priorities throughout this political term.

‘It will improve the enforcement of the law in this area and will be another step in ensuring the Bailiwick is kept safe and secure.’

Once approved by the States, the law will still need to be backed in the UK's Privy Council.

While the new law will introduce more targeted legislation, the committee has said that defendants have not been able to escape from prosecution because more general offences have been used to ensure that criminal behaviour has been prosecuted.

Offences added to original draft law

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Non-consensual offences against children under 13

Where one of the non-consensual offences such as rape, sexual assault or sexual coercion is alleged to have been committed against a complainant under 13, lack of consent will not need to be proved before the defendant can be convicted.

Abuse of position of trust

To adequately protect a 16 or 17-year-old complainant, further offences such as sexual activity with a child, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, sexual activity in the presence of a child or causing a child to watch a sexual act would be introduced in the Bailiwick.

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Grooming

A further offence of sexual communication with a child would be introduced in the Bailiwick, as well as criminalising communication by a person over the age of 18 with a child under 16 with the intention of facilitating the child’s engagement in or involvement with a sexual offence.

Extreme pornography and revenge pornography

Greater protection for adults in pornographic images, as well as the introduction of offences for possession of extreme pornographic images which portray in an explicit and realistic way acts which threaten a person’s life or might result in serious injury.

Revenge pornography where a person maliciously discloses private sexual photographs of an ex-partner without their consent and with the intent to cause them distress would also be criminalised.

Voyeurism and upskirting

This would prohibit acts such as observing and operating equipment to observe or record images of another person’s underwear while that person is carrying out certain activities in private, as well as in relation to children under 13 without having to prove the child’s lack of knowledge.

Possession of paedophile materials and child sex dolls

Criminalisation of the possession of any item that contains advice or guidance about abusing children sexually.

In addition child sex dolls have reportedly been brought to the British Islands so Home Affairs wants to introduce a possession offence to remove the need to identify how they arrived in the island as it is thought they can stimulate desire with babies and children.

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Zoe Fitch

By Zoe Fitch
News reporter

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