On 1 July 2022, revised sentencing guidelines came into force for the offences of arranging, or facilitating, the commission of a child sex offence and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. New guidelines have also come in to force for the offence of sexual communications with a child.
These guidelines now provide clear guidance that in situations where a child victim doesn’t actually exist and/or sexual activity with a child hasn’t actually taken place, the Court should sentence on the basis of the intended harm to the child. This is of particular relevance to undercover police investigations and ‘Paedophile hunter’ stings.
It is also of note that offences of arranging, or facilitating, the commission of a child sex offence, committed on or after the 28 June 2022 are indictable only where the offence arranged or facilitated is:
- Rape of an under 13 (s.5 SOA 2003)
- Assault of a child under 13 by Penetration (S.6 SOA 2003)
- Causing or inciting a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity (s.8 SOA 2003)
- Sexual activity with a child (S.9 SOA 2003) – Where penetration is involved
- Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity (S.10 SOA) – Where penetration is involved.
In all other cases, and if the offence is committed before 28 June 2022, the offence is triable either way.
The maximum sentence has also been increased to:
- Life imprisonment where the offence arranged or facilitated is s.5, s.5 or s.8 (If penetration is involved) of the SOA 2003
- 14 years imprisonment if the offence arranged or facilitated is s.7, section 8 (if no penetration is involved), s.9 or s.10 of the SOA 2003
- 10 years imprisonment where the offence facilitated or arranged is s.11 or s.12 of the SOA 2003
The sentencing range for an offence of sexual communications with a child is now a medium-level Community Order to 2 years imprisonment.
For the full sentencing guidelines see:
- Arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence
- Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity
- Sexual communications with a child
Written by Sabrina Neves, Solicitor, GT Stewart Solicitors