§ Mr. Peter Mills
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the legislation that deals with paedophilia and the protection of children; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The main criminal offences which deal with conduct such as my hon. Friend has in mind are the following:
Offence Maximum Penalty I Sexual Offences Rape Life imprisonment Attempted rape 7 years' imprisonment (s. 1, Sexual Offences Act 1956) Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl under 13 Life imprisonment An attempt to commit this offence 7 years' imprisonment (s. 5 Sexual Offences Act 1956) Unlawful sexual intercourse with a girl between 13 and 16 or an attempt to commit this offence 2 years' imprisonment (s. 6 Sexual Offences Act 1956) Buggery Life imprisonment An attempt to commit this offence or an assault with intent to commit this offence 10 years' imprisonment (ss. 12 and 16 Sexual Offences Act 1956) Committing or procuring gross indecency with a boy or man under 21 a. by a man of or over 21 5 years' imprisonment b. by a man under 21 2 years' imprisonment (s. 13 Sexual Offences Act 1956) Indecent assault on a girl under 13 5 years' imprisonment Indecent assault on a girl between 13 and 16 2 years' imprisonment Indecent assault on a boy under 16 10 years' imprisonment (ss. 14 and 15 Sexual Offences Act 1956. The law provides that a person under 16 cannot give any consent which would prevent an act being an assault for the purpose of these sections.)
Offence Maximum Penalty Gross indecency with or towards a child under 14 or inciting a child under that age to such an act (s.1 Indecency with Children Act 1960.) 2 years' imprisonment (if tried an indictment) 6 months' imprisonment or a fine of £1,000 or both (if tried summarily) II Indecent Photographs Taking, distributing, showing or possessing with a view to distributing or showing indecent photographs of children under 16; publishing or causing to be published advertisements which appear to offer indecent photographs of children. 3 years' imprisonment (s. 1,Protection of Children Act 1978.) Under subsection 1(2), parting with possession of an indecent photograph or exposing or offering it for acquisition by another person will amount to "distributing" for the purposes of this section.
Provisions of the Children and Young Persons Acts 1933 to 1969 provides protection for such persons who are in moral danger or in need of care or control.
Other provisions which may in certain circumstances be relevant include the Obscene Publications Acts 1959 and 1964, the Post Office Act 1953, the Customs and Excise Act 1952, the various statutes relating to indecent displays and the common law offence of conspiracy to corrupt public morals.
The whole of the law relating to sexual offences in England and Wales is currently under review by the Criminal Law Revision Committee, in consultation with the Policy Advisory Committee on Sexual Offences. As part of this review the Policy Advisory Committee will shortly be publishing its report in the age of consent in relation to sexual offences, to which the Government will give careful consideration.
As I indicated in reply to my hon. Friend on 19 March, we have no reason for thinking that existing law is inadequate for the protection of children.
§ Mr. Peter Mills
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions there have been under the Protection of Children Act.
§ Mr. Mayhew
The Protection of Children Act carne into force on 20 August 1978, and Home Office records of all court proceedings show that, up to the end of 1979, 20 persons were proceeded against for an offence under the Protection of Children Act 1978, six where this was the principal offence and 14 where it was a secondary offence; corresponding information for 1980 is not yet available. I understand that the Director of Public Prosecutions completed one prosecution under the Act during 1978, eight during 1979 and 11 during 1980. He has given his consent to prosecutions in other cases, but the number of such prosecutions undertaken by the police cannot be readily ascertained.