on sex offences involving children are to be reformed as part of an overhaul of
the sexual offences legislation, the home secretary has announced.
David Blunkett told delegates at a police
conference in London last week that the government intended to publish
proposals in the autumn that would update "centuries old, outdated law on
It is expected that the proposals will
include a new crime of "adult sexual activity with a child," which
would replace the seven offences currently used to prosecute sex offences with
The new package of measures may also
introduce a life sentence for sexual abuse of children deemed to be especially
"We are balancing here the toughening of
protection, particularly for children, while ensuring the law is fair and
non-discriminatory and reflects the 21st century," he said.
A spokesperson for the NSPCC said: "The
NSPCC very much welcomes the government’s decision to reform the laws on sex
crimes and sex offenders. We believe that the protection of children and
vulnerable adults from abuse and exploitation should be the prime objective of
The proposals have also been welcomed by
Mencap. Richard Kramer, the charity’s head of campaigns, said: "We are
delighted that the government will finally modernise the law on sex
He said that sex offenders deliberately
targeted people with learning difficulties because detection and penalties were
so much lower (the maximum sentence is two years).
"We need laws that properly deter sex
offenders from preying on vulnerable adults and provide punishment that truly
reflects the seriousness of that crime," added Kramer.
Meanwhile, the government has also announced
that members of the public are to become involved in monitoring the behaviour
of sex offenders living in their communities. Lay members are being invited to
sit on the strategic boards overseeing the multi-agency public protection
panels which manage dangerous offenders across England and Wales.