Unlucky Section 13: Sexual Activity between Children and the Sexual Offences Act 2003

King's Law Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2009

Posted: 15 Aug 2009

See all articles by Adam Perry

Adam Perry

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law

Date Written: August 14, 2009

Abstract

The purpose of section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 is to protect children from sexual exploitation by other children. To achieve that end, the section prohibits almost all sexual activity between children, and so prohibits mostly innocent, ordinary activity. The government in 2003 trusted that prosecutors would exercise their discretion to trim section 13’s overreach. However, prosecutorial discretion carries its own high costs: it deters conduct beyond section 13’s intended scope, and it undermines the rule of law. Moreover, there was a better alternative, open to the government at the time. Prohibiting only sexual activity between dissimilar aged children would have largely achieved section 13’s purpose without the same need for prosecutorial discretion.

Keywords: Sexual Offences Act 2003, children, exploitation, prosecutorial discretion, rule of law

Suggested Citation

Perry, Adam, Unlucky Section 13: Sexual Activity between Children and the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (August 14, 2009). King's Law Journal, Vol. 20, No. 2, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1452760

Adam Perry (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St Cross Building
St Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UL
United Kingdom

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
459
PlumX Metrics