The Serious Crime Act 2015 received Royal Assent on 1 March 2015.
Section 67 makes it an offence in England and Wales for anyone over 18 to communicate with a child under 16 for sexual gratification. It amends the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
"15A Sexual communication with a child
(1) A person aged 18 or over (A) commits an offence if--
(a) for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, A intentionally communicates with another person (B),
(b) the communication is sexual or is intended to encourage B to make (whether to A or to another) a communication that is sexual, and
(c) B is under 16 and A does not reasonably believe that B is 16 or over.
(2) For the purposes of this section, a communication is sexual if--
(a) any part of it relates to sexual activity, or
(b) a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person's purpose, consider any part of the communication to be sexual;
and in paragraph (a) “sexual activity” means an activity that a reasonable person would, in all the circumstances but regardless of any person's purpose, consider to be sexual."
However the section has yet to be enacted, which means although it is on the statute books, police are unable to use it to arrest adults sending sexual messages to children.
The section was introduced in order to toughen up the law against grooming offences. Let us hope it is enacted soon.
Malcolm Johnson, Specialist Child Abuse Lawyer