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Explanatory Memorandum to Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008

Article 20: Sexual offences against children committed by children or young persons

7.47.Article 20 makes it an offence for a person aged under 18 to do anything that would be an offence under any of Articles 16 to 19 if he were aged 18 or over. The purpose of this Article is to provide a lower penalty where the offender is aged under 18. In practice (although there is no provision about this in the Order) decisions on whether persons under 18 should be charged with child sex offences will be made by the Public Prosecution Service in accordance with the principles set out in the Code for Prosecutors. In deciding whether it is in the public interest to prosecute these offences, where there is enough evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction, prosecutors may take into consideration factors such as the ages of the parties; the emotional maturity of the parties; whether they entered into a sexual relationship willingly; any coercion or corruption by a person; and the relationship between the parties and whether there was any existence of a duty of care or breach of trust.

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