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Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000

Financial Effects of the Act

22.The Government believes the overall effect of the changes in the Act will be cost neutral.

23.We expect the offence of abuse of trust will act more as a deterrent than result in a large number of actual prosecutions. There are no accurate figures on which to base estimates. One starting point is in the education area and disciplinary action taken there. The number of teachers whose cases are considered by the Secretary of State as a result of inappropriate conduct against 16 and 17 year olds in relation to the list maintained by the Department for Education and Employment, List 99, is around 5 a year. This covers non-consensual as well as consensual relationships and is an approximate figure only. Nevertheless it provides some indication of possible numbers. For 16 and 17 year olds the education category is very much larger than for those in residential or foster care, or in detention, but the vulnerability in those settings may be more extreme. Based on this, we estimate prosecutions over the wider area covered by the proposed new offence would amount to around 10-15 a year in England and Wales. This results in costs to the criminal justice system of around £77k - £115k a year.

24.The Government believes these costs will be approximately offset by savings from no longer taking action through the criminal justice system against those males engaged in homosexual activity with 16 and 17 year olds, including 16 and 17 year olds themselves. At present there are only a few cautions or prosecutions each year against males aged 16 and 17 for the offences of buggery and gross indecency with males of their own age or older. In 1998 in England and Wales there was 1 caution, 2 prosecutions and 1 conviction of males aged 16 and 17 for gross indecency and 2 cautions and no prosecutions or convictions of 16 and 17 year old males for buggery. In the same year there were no cautions, 5 prosecutions and 8 convictions of those aged 18 and over for buggery with 16 and 17 year olds. Separate figures for gross indecency by those aged 18 and over with 16 and 17 year olds are not available. For males under 16 there were 4 cautions for gross indecency (no prosecutions or convictions) and 5 cautions, 6 prosecutions and no convictions for buggery. It is not possible to determine the age of the other party in these offences and hence whether they would remain able to be prosecuted with the changes the Act makes to the law.

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