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Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000

Abuse of trust

7.During the debate on the Crime and Disorder Bill on 22 June 1998 Alun Michael, the then Home Office Minister of State, announced that an inter-departmental group, set up to identify additional safeguards needed to prevent unsuitable people from working with children, would also be looking to identify the measures necessary to protect 16 and 17 year olds who might be vulnerable to abuse by those in a position of trust (Hansard col.787). The inter-departmental working group on preventing unsuitable people working with children and abuse of trust conducted a short consultation exercise in England and Wales in August and September 1998. The Scottish Office conducted a similar consultation exercise in Scotland in October and November 1998. The interim report of the working group was placed in the library of both Houses on 25 November 1998. This proposed a new criminal offence specifically targeted to protect those who may be particularly vulnerable or where the relationship of trust is particularly strong, together with an initiative to strengthen codes of conduct.

8.These recommendations form the basis for the proposed offence of abuse of trust contained in the Bill introduced in December 1998 and in the present Act. The Government also committed itself to strengthening codes of conduct generally to protect 16 and 17 year olds from sexual advances, both homosexual and heterosexual, from those in positions of trust. In accordance with this commitment, on 17 September 1999 the Government produced the booklet “Caring for young people and the vulnerable? Guidance for preventing abuse of trust”, copies of which were placed in the library of both Houses.

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