New Offence of Sexual Communication with a Child

May 15, 2017

Justice Secretary, the Rt Hon Liz Truss MP, has announced a new offence of ‘sexual communication with a child’ under s.67 the Serious Crime Act 2015 will be coming into force on the 3rd of April 2017, as part of a major crackdown on sexual abuse. The offence, will help to quash abuse from the early stages of grooming, effectively halting those targeting minors online or through text message.

The offence can be heard either in a magistrates’ court or a Crown Court and will carry a maximum jail sentence of two years as well as being automatically placed on the sex offenders register.

The offence criminalises conduct of an adult who intentionally communicates with a child under the age of sixteen (or in the absence of a reasonable belief that the child is sixteen or over) with the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification where the communication is sexual in nature or if the intent is to encourage a sexual response. The term ‘sexual gratification’ is already used in context of offences at sections 11 and 12 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which prohibit engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child and causing a child to watch a sexual act respectively, and case law has given the term a wide interpretation. Taking, possessing or circulating or exchanging indecent images of children are already criminal offences, however, before this new offence, sexualised text communication with children was not a criminal offence unless it was connected with an actual attempt by the adult to meet the child.

Chatting sexually to a child in an online chatroom, sending sexually explicit text messages to a child and inviting a child to communicate sexually (whether the invitation itself is sexual or not) will be criminalised by the new offence. All online and offline communications, including on social media, email, and letters are also covered by the new offence. The offence has been drafted carefully to avoid innocent communication between adults and children, such as social communications or communications for educational purposes.

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC who campaigned for the law to be changed to prevent grooming said in response to the proposed changes; “Children should be as safe online as they are offline, wherever they are in the UK. This law will give police in England and Wales the powers they need to protect children from online grooming, and to intervene sooner to stop abuse before it starts.”

At Tuckers Solicitors, we are specialists in providing advice to individuals facing allegations of having committed sexual offences. Our specialist criminal defence team have an enviable reputation for successfully defending some of the most complicated crimes in UK law. We have been involved in a number of cases involving sexual activities where children are concerned, and where there are issues regarding the provision of consent. We understand that that being accused of having committed a sexual offence can create a great deal of stress and anxiety for people and their loved ones. We approach each client’s case with professionalism and integrity, and will handle your defence with the utmost care and diligence.

Tuckers Sexual Offences Solicitors Manchester UK

With ten offices in London, Birmingham and Manchester, our offices are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, ensuring the delivery of immediate expert legal advice and representation. Tuckers Solicitor’s award-winning and astute lawyers are always on hand to ensure that those arrested are able to receive practical and timely advice, and are fully prepared for giving evidence in court.

We act for over 15,000 clients a year, from all sections of society. All have one thing in common: they are innocent until proven guilty and our lawyers will do everything within the rules to ensure that their best interests are served. Our lawyers are known for their strategic expertise as well as the outstanding client service they provide, whilst ensuring that high profile cases are kept out of the public eye.

Tuckers Solicitors is recognised as the UK’s leading criminal law firm and should be the first choice for anyone facing allegations of sexual communication with a child. The firm is structured into dedicated teams, led by expert solicitors; the Sexual Offences team being led by Richard Egan. Tuckers Solicitors has a first-class in-house advocacy team, consisting of Barristers and Solicitor Higher Court Advocates. For more information please contact our London Office on 020 7388 8333, Manchester Office on 016 1233 4321 or Birmingham Office on 012 1236 4324 or email