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Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

Sexual offences against children

Section 89: Meeting a child following sexual grooming etc.

This section amends Article 22(1) (a) of the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 to reduce the number of times an adult has to have met, or communicated with a child, before meeting them, or travelling to meet them, from two occasions to one or more occasions.  The provision does not apply retrospectively and is effective only from the date of commencement of this section.

Section 90: Sexual communication with a child

This section introduces new section 22A into the Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008.

Section 22A provides that an adult person (18 years or over) commits an offence if they communicate sexually with a child under 16 years (or a child who the person committing the offence believes to be under 16 years) for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification, or if they encourage the child to make a communication that is sexual, with them or someone else.

It defines a sexual communication as one which relates to sexual activity or where a reasonable person would consider it to be sexual.  It defines sexual activity as an activity that a reasonable person would consider to be sexual.

Those found guilty of the offence would be liable to up to 6 months imprisonment, or a fine on summary conviction, or imprisonment of up to 2 years on indictment.  Those guilty of the offence would also be subject to notification requirements under the terms of Part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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