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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

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Prosecutors continue to tackle revenge porn across the country

13/08/2015

A 25-year-old man from Kidderminster has today, 13th August, been sentenced to a 12 month community order, handed a fine and ordered to pay costs, as prosecutors continue to tackle revenge porn across England and Wales using the new legislation.

Alex Till, who was the first person in the West Midlands to be convicted of revenge pornography, was sentenced at Kidderminster Magistrates' Court after he pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to disclosing on Facebook, a private photograph of the victim which was of a sexually explicit nature, without her consent.

In June 2015, the defendant sent the victim a Facebook message from a false account using the private sexual photograph of the victim as his profile picture. This caused the victim enormous distress.

The matter was reported to the police who subsequently arrested the defendant and charged him with an offence contrary to Section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015.

Lionel Idan, Deputy Chief Crown Prosecutor from West Midlands Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said:

"Alex Till sought revenge against the victim by posting a sexually explicit photograph onto a social media website without the victim's permission.

"This deliberate and callous act was intended to cause the victim maximum distress, humiliation and embarrassment.

"Such criminal actions will not be tolerated by the CPS and the police and we will do everything in our power to obtain justice for victims of this crime by robustly prosecuting all those who engage in such malicious activity.

"The CPS has introduced new guidelines for its prosecutors on revenge porn and I urge anyone who has been a victim of such a crime to report it to the police and to help us bring such offenders to justice."

Additional information:

In April 2015, the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 created a new criminal offence of Revenge Pornography, making it a criminal offence to disclose private sexual photographs and films without the consent of an individual who appears in them and with the intent to cause that individual distress. A typical case of revenge pornography would involve an ex-partner uploading an intimate image of the victim to the Internet or sending it to their friends and family.  It is carried out with the intention of causing distress, humiliation and embarrassment to the victim.

Previously, these cases have been prosecuted under other areas of legislation, such as the Communications Act 2003, Malicious Communications Act 1988 or the Harassment Act 1997. Under the new legislation someone convicted of an offence could face up to two years in prison and receive a fine.

The guidance on Revenge Porn outlines:

  • Revenge Porn is the sharing of private, sexual materials, either photos or videos, of another person without their consent and with the purpose of causing embarrassment or distress. The images are sometimes accompanied by personal information about the subject, including their full name, address and links to their social media profiles.
  • The offence applies both online and offline and to images which are shared electronically or in a more traditional way so includes the uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and e-mail, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.
  • To fall within the offence, a photograph or film would have to be private and sexual. This could include an image that depicted an individual's exposed genitals, or a picture of someone who is engaged in sexual behaviour or posing in a sexually provocative way, if what is shown is not of a kind ordinarily seen in public.
  • Section 1 of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 deals with the sending of electronic communications which are indecent, grossly offensive, threatening or false, provided there is an intention to cause distress or anxiety to the recipient.
  • Section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 makes it an offence to send or cause to be sent through a 'public electronic communications network' a message that is 'grossly offensive' or of an 'indecent, obscene or menacing character'.
  • Where there is more than one incident, or the incident forms part of a course of conduct directed towards an individual, a charge of harassment should be considered.
  • Where the images may have been taken when the victim was under 18, prosecutors will consider offences under the Protection of Children Act 1978.
  • In the most serious cases, where intimate images are used to coerce victims into further sexual activity, other offences under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 will be considered.

Ends

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:  www.cps.gov.uk.
  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.