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Sexual Offences

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 updated the law, much of which dated back to 1956.

The main provisions of the Act include the following:

  • Rape is widened to include oral penetration
  • Significant changes to the issue of consent
  • Specific offences relating to children under 13, 16 and 18
  • Offences to protect vulnerable persons with a mental disorder
  • Other miscellaneous offences
  • Strengthening the notification requirements and providing new civil preventative orders

Find out more about how we prosecute sexual offences

Prep school teacher jailed for 42 child sexual offences


At Chester Crown Court today [Thursday, 6 November], Keith Cavendish-Coulson was jailed for six years and nine months after pleading guilty to 42 counts of indecent assault on boys under the age of 14, contrary to section 15(1) of the Sexual Offences Act 1956.

Alison Mutch, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor for CPS Mersey-Cheshire, said: "Keith Cavendish-Coulson presented himself as a friendly and approachable teacher and tutor in order to carry out a string of sexual offences against the pupils in his care.

"He used this position of authority to target young boys who trusted their teachers and were often living far away from home.

"Most of the offences happened over a two year period between 1973 and 1975 when he indecently assaulted 24 young boys in the classrooms and dormitories of the preparatory school where he taught French. One further victim was sexually assaulted while Cavendish-Coulson was his private tutor.

"His offending has had a profound effect on his many victims. The compelling evidence in the case left Keith Cavendish-Coulson with little option but to plead guilty. I am pleased that this spared the victims from having to give evidence against him."


Notes to Editors

  1. For media enquiries call the CPS Press Office on 020 3357 0906; Out of Hours Pager 07699 781 926
  2. The CPS consists of 13 Areas in total, each headed by a Chief Crown Prosecutor (CCP). In addition, there are three national casework divisions: Specialist Fraud (formerly Central Fraud and Welfare, Rural & Health Divisions), Special Crime & Counter Terrorism and Organised Crime. CPS Direct is a 'virtual' 14th Area which provides charging decisions to all police forces and other investigators across England and Wales - it operates twenty-four hours, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
  3. At 31 March 2014 we employed a workforce of approximately 6237 staff (full time equivalent), including around 2226 prosecutors and 3629 caseworkers and administrators. Further information can be found on our website:
  4. The CPS, together with ACPO and media representatives, has developed a Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media. This sets out the type of prosecution material that will normally be released, or considered for release, together with the factors we will take into account when considering requests. Read the Protocol for the release of prosecution material to the media.