Following an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, a report dated 9th May 2019, “Anglican Church Case Studies the Diocese of Chichester and the allegations against Peter Ball”, made the following recommendation to the government.
The government should amend s21 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003 so as to include Clergy within the definition of a position of trust. This would criminalise under s16-s20 sexual activity between clergy and a person aged 16-18, over whom they exercise pastoral authority, including the abuse of a position of trust.
On the 31st October 2019, Chris Philip MP, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Justice wrote to Professor Alexis Jay OBE, the Chair of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, thanking her and the inquiry panel for their report.
Chris Philips confirms in his letter that the government recognise that there are “deeply-held concerns” about those who might abuse their position of power over a 16 and 17 year old to pressure them into engaging in sexual activity.
He assured the panel that the criminal law already in place provides a number of protections to deal with non-consensual and unwanted sexual activity and abuse, and such behaviour should be caught in the robust laws that are already in place. Chris Philips actively encourages anyone who feels that they are a victim of sexual abuse to contact the police so that such activity can be investigated, prosecuted or punished, no matter what the perpetrator’s occupation or relationship to the individual may be.
Further, it was confirmed that the Ministry of Justice has been working closely with other colleagues across government carrying out their own review of existing offenses to make sure that the current laws in place are working as effectively as possible and are clearly understood.
This review has included reaching out to the Police and the CPS to see how the law is working in practice and how to raise awareness. The government has also engaged with organisations that work closely with young children in order to understand their concerns and to make sure that appropriate measures are put in place to protect young people from inappropriate behaviour.
Following the above reviews, roundtable and smaller meetings have been held with a number of sectors, including faith groups, which have been vital for the governments thinking in respect of what actions, if any, should be made going forwards.
Chris Philips concludes his letter by reassuring the inquiry that the government are considering the findings of their review in detail and will announce the next steps in due course, as well as keeping the inquiry updated.
If you have been a victim of child abuse and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on 0800 9555 094 or 0330 300 1103.