HC Deb 30 July 1997 vol 299 c260W
Ms Roseanna Cunningham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the advice he has issued concerning the prosecution of private consensual homosexual acts involving males between the ages of 16 and 18 years. [11268]

Mr. Michael

My Department has issued no such advice. Prosecution policy is a matter for the Director of Public Prosecutions, as the head of the Crown Prosecution Service, under the superintendence of the Attorney-General. The law provides restrictions on prosecutions for certain homosexual offences in England and Wales. Under section 8 of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, no proceedings can be instituted except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions against any man for the offence of buggery, or gross indecency with, another man or for aiding, abetting, counselling, procuring or commanding its commission where either of the men were at the time of its commission under the age of 21.

The Crown Prosecution Service applies two tests before it institutes proceedings. First, it decides whether the evidence affords a realistic prospect of conviction; secondly, if that exists, it decides whether prosecution is in the public interest. Prosecution of those under 18 is not undertaken lightly and is more likely where there is an element of seduction or corruption, coercion or force. Each case would be carefully considered in the light of its own facts.