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Last Updated: Thursday, 9 October, 2003, 17:46 GMT 18:46 UK
Sex law changes target paedophiles
Crying child
The Sexual Offences Bill includes tough penalties to protect children
Parliament is debating a new Sexual Offences Bill which will bring new measures to crack down on child sex offenders.

The bill, expected to be passed by the end of November, will include a range of new offences and tougher penalties against paedophiles.

In a statement to BBC News Online, Paul Goggins, Parliamentary Under Secretary for State, said: "The Sexual Offences Bill will bring in a series of measures to protect children and the most vulnerable.

"A new offence of grooming will, for the first time, protect children from the use of the internet by paedophiles - making it an offence to meet or arrange to meet a child with the intention of committing a sexual offence."

This will carry a maximum sentence of seven years, even if sexual contact does not take place.

Under current legislation, internet child groomer Douglas Lindsell faces a five-year term for offences including attempted abduction and gross indecency.

Tighter monitoring

Under the new proposed laws, stricter sentencing would also apply to the offence of indecent assault.

The previous maximum ten-year sentence could, in some cases, be extended to life.

Sex with a child under 13 would automatically be classed as rape and carry a maximum life sentence.

By comparison, Michael Wheeler, convicted earlier this year of having sex with two 13-year-old girls, received a three-year jail term.

In addition, the bill includes a risk of sexual harm order, which proposes that those registered as sex offenders would be required to confirm their details annually.

Similarly, the period within which an offender should notify the register of any changes would be reduced from 14 days to three.

Measures will also be introduced to ensure offenders who travel to or from the UK will be more effectively monitored.

Internet 'groomer' jailed
09 Oct 03  |  London
Man 'groomed girl for sex'
02 Oct 03  |  Tees
Chat room paedophile jailed
07 Jun 03  |  England
'I was groomed online'
06 Feb 03  |  UK News
Q&A: Keeping safe on the net
06 Jan 03  |  Technology

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