Measures to strengthen laws protecting children from sexual exploitation to be taken forward by Long

Alliance Justice Minister Naomi Long MLA has announced her intention to strengthen the existing law to provide greater protection for children from sexual exploitation, and to introduce a specific offence banning upskirting following the Review of the Law on Child Sexual Exploitation.

Naomi Long said: “The sexual exploitation of children is an issue which is, and should be, of deep concern for all of us in society. I am determined to play my part in tackling this type of abuse and making our communities safer for our children and young people.

“To that end, I intend to introduce a number of provisions into legislation to be laid before the Assembly in 2021. These are: changes to terminology to remove terms such as “child prostitution” from current legislation; legislating against adults masquerading as children online; and the inclusion of live streaming in relevant sexual offences. Taken together, these will strengthen the law to protect children from different forms of sexual exploitation and abuse.

“Alongside these increased protections for children, the new offence of upskirting will tighten the law around voyeurism and offer increased protection to those who are subjected to this behaviour, whilst ensuring that offenders are prosecuted and subject to sex offender notification requirements.”

A public consultation on the Review of the Law on Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) was launched by the Department of Justice in 2019. It looked at 14 areas of the criminal law which relate to circumstances where children can be sexually exploited.

In total 58 substantive responses were submitted from stakeholders and individuals. A summary of responses and an outline of the Department’s intention for addressing all of the 14 specific issues examined were published today.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “I am grateful to all those who took the time to engage in the consultation on these important issues. I particularly want to thank those respondents who offered unique personal insights into the impact of such behaviours on survivors of child sexual exploitation.

“Responses also suggested that further engagement is required on a number of areas identified within the Review and I am committed to working collectively with partners and stakeholders in the coming months to consider the best way forward on these issues.”