Serious Crime Act 2015 has been amended to allow for greater understanding of child sexual exploitation
An updated Serious Crime Act 2015 introduces a number of key changes in terminology which highlight the changing attitudes towards child sexual exploitation and abuse. From the 3rd May 2015 the act no longer uses the term “child prostitution” or child pornography.
The government wants to make those working in the youth justice system aware of the shift in tone and attitude when dealing with these emotive issues. The Home Office has produced a factsheet giving an overview of the changes. Following a review by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner for England in 2012, all references to children being involved in prostitution or pornography have been removed from related legislation. The Serious Crime Act also amends Section 1 of the Street Offences Act 1959, so that the offence of loitering and soliciting for prostitution only applies to adults.
The effect of these changes is to de-criminalise the acts of children being forced into prostitution focusing on the adults who control their behaviour and or promote their activities on the streets. This is a welcome change in policy which should see more action taken by the authorities to safeguard vulnerable children from rape and prostitution rather than penalise them for the circumstances they find themselves in.