I appreciate the emails I have received recently from constituents regarding the NSPCC’s Close the Loophole campaign. I agree that the protection of children and young people must remain a priority and understand the concerns that have been expressed.
Any sexual activity with a child under 16 is a criminal offence, regardless of whether consent is given. In addition, any non-consensual sexual activity is also a crime, whatever the age of the victim and whatever the relationship between the victim and perpetrator.
Where a manipulative offender grooms a child under the age of consent and then engages in a sexual relationship with them when they are over 16, offences are in place to deal with this such as Section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
The Sexual Offences Act 2003 also provides increased protection for younger people aged 16 and 17. Offences criminalise those in a position of trust who sexually abuse young people in their care. The offences target relationships where the young person has some dependency on the adult involved and often combined with an element of vulnerability of that young person.
The Government remains committed to protecting children and young people from sexual abuse and there are already a wide range of criminal offences under which to prosecute and sentence those who carry out such acts. However, I can assure you that Ministers across Government are keeping this sensitive and important area of the law under review and are working together to ensure our young athletes feel safe in their training environment.