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Final stage of North’s sex-offence law begins

28 Nov 2023 / justice Print

Final stage of North’s sex-offence law begins

A number of new offences have been established in the North, after the final provisions of sexual-offences legislation were commenced yesterday (27 November).

The changes mark the final stage of the implementation of the Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022, which has been implemented in three phases.

The new offences include ‘up-skirting’, ‘down-blousing’ and ‘cyber-flashing’.

‘Increasingly prevalent’ behaviours

Richard Pengelly (Permanent Secretary at the Department of Justice) said that the combination of new laws addressed a range of particular behaviours that had become increasingly prevalent within society, and strengthened some existing laws.

The changes to the law include:

  • Four new offences to capture what are commonly known as ‘up-skirting’ and ‘down-blousing’, which are linked to the observing or recording of a person’s genitals, buttocks, breasts or underwear without a person’s consent,
  • A new offence of “sending an unwanted sexual image”, or ‘cyber-flashing’, to capture the behaviour of those who intentionally send an image of their genitals or sexual activity to another person without that person’s consent,
  • Four new offences designed to tackle the particular behaviour of an adult pretending to be a child and making a communication with a child under 16 with a view to sexual grooming,
  • Extending the scope of the established abuse of position-of-trust offences to capture those adults in a position of trust who knowingly coach, teach, train, supervise or instruct a child on a regular basis in the area of sport or religion, and
  • Amending the existing offence of disclosing a private sexual photograph and film with intent to cause distress, to bring the behaviour of threatening to disclose a private sexual photograph and film with intent to cause distress within its scope.
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