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Discuss the major changes in new Act named Sexual Offence Code 2003?


Executive summary

The England had come up with new Act named Sexual Offence Code 2003 in place of Sexual offence Act 1956.The below report states the key reasons and driving forces for introduction of this strict law. Brief discussion of the new provisions and elements that were focused as center of the act is done. Evaluation of the fact that whether the new act will enable to meet the lacking of old acts?  The increasing number of sexual crimes had lead to rethink the government regarding the social security and concern of increasing spoiled environment. The law was initially met with 63 recommendations from review committee, out of 63 only three were not accepted and 60 were accepted. And as a result reforms take place on the Sexual offense.  The major findings of the report are showing how the old acts loopholes were overcome.


It is to be noted the old Sexual Act 1956 had been compiled and drawn from number of common acts and Victorian laws, however looking to the increasing number of crimes related to sexual nature, the government had come up with new act Sexual offence code which have extensive coverage of  the different type of sexual offences. It was written that “It is a patchwork quilt of provisions ancient and modern that works because people make it do, not because there is a coherence and structure”, it means the law is based on very outdated situations and does not have provision to give proper justice of existing sexual crime. The said old act did not contain the clear guidance for judicial for decision taking purpose. The law has been defined with no difference in gender for offense. The man intention for reformation of law is to provide clear guidelines to the judicial bodies to pass the judgment. The cases of sexual are very complicated as most of the cases are bases on fact. Determination of the real fact is the real challenge for judicial office holder. The new act had been framed to support the judges to determine the fact of the case and reach to the conclusion


Discussion on Major changes

According to the new provision of the act focused as been made at the mental position of the offender, the existence or non existence of consent element. The man offenses have been defines under section 1-8 of the Act. The said offenses is termed as rape if

  • When any man or women have with intention  penetrate the vagina or touch with other body part with sexual intention it will be said as offense only

  • The new act has extended the definition of sexual assault by classifying forced oral sex as rape only and penetration of vagina by other modes except penis as offense carried out assault by penetration. Also there are wide types of activity covered under this provision like touch by offender with sexual intention and that is without the consent of another person. To sum up the focus has been diverted to the consent and intention element.

  • If some person make compel another person to involve in the activity of sex

This are not in exhaustive nature, number of provision in new act hit offences as rap directly or indirectly.

If we talk the general definition if the Rape under the new act, it says as follows:

 A person is help as guilty for sexual offence, if he

  • With intention abuse the Vagina, Mouth or anus with his penis and

  • The aggrieved party does not have consent and

  • The offender knows that the aggrieved party does not have consent.

So to sum up we can say that under the new definition establish the offense existence of penetration by intention , non existence of consent , and knowing the fact of absence of others consent should be exist. It is to be noted that the new act also covers the situation as offence when one person cause another person to involve in sexual activity, and the old act does not have any clear provision in such cases. The new act specifically says such activity as sexual offence, it is also to be noted that in such case women are also said to have committed offence if she makes compel other person to penetrate and or cause to engage in such sexual activity.   The problem were arising under old English law for determination of question of consent  and other attached problems , however the new acts clear and extensive clarification have made available a clear guide for determination of the facts and related problems . The consent questions were generally remained undefined due to R V Olugboja, however the new act has provided new definition of the consent, it says the person is said to have given consent only if he or she ready with choice and at the same time have capacity to make the choice.

Provision related to Child Sex

It is to be noted that under the old acts, the offender were proved as honest if the child have consent to have sexual activity. Such situation made it very complicated to judge and determines the fact of the case. However under the new acts the sexual activity with minors irrespective of his consent is consider as an offense. The contrary provision related to the child sexual offense under section 5 has been abolished and total four offences are introduce related to sexual acts with children having age below 13, such new provision is applicable to every person regardless of his or her age. It is to be noted that if the child below the age of 13 and it commits the offence than it is not relieved from the provision of the act. The new provisions have cleared revealed the intention of the government to remain very strict in the area of Children sexual offence. Also some of the provision from section 9 to 12 extends the age limit of children from 13 to 16 for proving offences related to sexual act, which says following act as offense

  • Touch to children with sexual intention

  • Causing child to engage in sexual activities , it prohibits the child to make him watch pornography film

  • Engaging in sexual activity by anyone in the presence of children

  • Arranging or causing the children to show sexual act

So we can say that acts have resolved the issue regarding the consent and age consideration, the provision is made settled with clear wording in the provision lines. The one option that remains with offender is to produce evidential argument that he or she has reasonable fact to believe that the aggrieved party is over the age of 16.


General Additional Provision

The new act has cited number of acts as offences and made it wide in scope, some of which are as follow:

  • Arranging and conducting meetings with child for sexual grooming. Under the old acts no charge has been taken against persons meeting with child with sexual intention as actually there is no offence as consent exist, however under the new provision same has been covered as offences only.

  • Carrying out sexual activity by abusing the position of trust

  • Sexual activity between the families members are also considered as offence, under the old Sexual Offence At, the gender base offences are outlined related to incest. However under the nee provision of the Sexual Offence Code 2003, the sexual activity in family with children under the age of 18 is consider as offence.

  • Offences against the Mental disordered person. It is to be noted that, the old act seems outdated in provision for protection of mentally disabled victims. However new provisions contain the detailed provision to give justice

  • The age limit of the consented child pornography has been increased to 18 from 16.

The above discussed offences were either not clear under the old act or either not existed in the old act. The Sexual Offence Code 2013 has clearly defined all such offences.



 After discussion of the above facts and provision of the new Sexual offence Act, I can say that there are number of areas where the strict provision are replaced in place of old provision contain in Old act, and fresh provisions are also inserted. The old provision were not proving worth to guide the judicial officer to reach at the right decision or conclusion , however clear citation of the new provisions have enabled them to pronounce right decision with little confusion. There is some provision under old act which remained silent for specific offences; however the new act has removed every contrary and made the provision very clear. Yes of course I believe that the new act has provided sufficient remedies for loopholes for old act as fundamentals and coverage of the act has been increased very much. However the act can prove effective only if the implementation of the each provision is done effectively ate every case




 Cyril Whelan,2004, “THE SEXUAL OFFENCES ACT, 2003 – IS JERSEY FALLING BEHIND?”,Accessed on 25 March 2015,< >

James Andrew Roffee LLB (London) BCL (Oxon) ,2011,” The Law on Incest: A New Legal Realist Approach to Understanding the English and Welsh Prohibitions , Accessed on 24 March “<>    

Anon,n.d.,” Sexual Offences  Act 2003”,Accessed on 24 March 2015,, < >

Anon,n.d.,” CRIMINAL LAW (SEXUAL OFFENCES AND RELATED MATTERS) AMENDMENT ACT 32 OF 2007”, Accessed on 24 March 2015,<>

Adam Perry,n.d.,” Unlucky Section 13: Sexual Activity Between Children and the Sexual Offences Act 2003”, Accessed on 24 March 2015,< >

Law Reforms Commision,2013,” SEXUAL OFFENCES AND CAPACITY TO CONSENT”, Accessed on 24 March 2015,<>

Ministry of justice,2013,” An Overview of Sexual Offending in England and Wales”,Accessed on 24 March 2015,< >

Home Office ,2000,” SETTING THE BOUNDARIES VOLUME I July 2000 Reforming the law on sex offences”, Accessed on 24 March 2015,< >

Jo Phoenix,n.d.,” Out of place: The policing and criminalisation of sexually exploited girls and young women”, Accessed on 24 March 2015,< >

Sentencing Council,n.d.,” Sexual Offences Definitive Guideline”, Accessed on 24 March 2015,<>

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