A private members bill amending the law on sex offences against
vulnerable adults received its first reading in the House of
The bill, introduced by Mencap president Lord Rix, calls for sex
with a person with a severe learning difficulty who is unable to
consent to sexual activity to be made a criminal offence, and for
the development of a new test to determine a person’s
capacity to consent to sexual activity.
The bill also states that it should be a criminal offence for an
individual working in a residential home or other care setting to
have sex with a person with learning difficulties who is receiving
services in that care setting.
Lord Rix said: “Changes to the law are long overdue to actually
stop sex offenders preying on vulnerable adults and provide
punishments that really reflect the seriousness of the crime.
“In the rare cases where offenders are convicted, their
sentences are so low that they do not act as a deterrent. It is
shocking to think that in a so-called civilised society vulnerable
people are being abused and exploited in this way.”
Currently, the maximum sentence for abusing a person with
learning difficulties is only two years.