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30 June 2022

Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Bill

The Justice (Sexual Offences and Trafficking Victims) Bill gains Royal Assent

The Justice (Sexual Offences & Trafficking Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2022 (2022 c.19) received Royal Assent on the 27 April.

Sections 21 to 27 and Part 4 of the Act came into operation the day after Royal Assent.

These provisions:

·         relate to the improvement of services and support to victims of human trafficking and exploitation;

·         make minor amendments to existing provision for Sexual Offences Prevention Orders and Violent Offences Prevention Orders; and

·         codify the law on the defence of consent to harm for sexual gratification (commonly known as the ‘rough sex’ defence).

The remaining provisions, which include:

·         new offences of up-skirting; down-blousing; cyber-flashing; and threats to disclose private sexual images;

·         offences to deal with adults masquerading as a child with the intention of grooming children;

·         extension of the scope of existing abuse of trust offences to non-statutory sector settings of sport and religion;

·         provisions to further protect the privacy and anonymity of victims of sexual offences, including the exclusion of the public from trials and appeals in serious sexual offence cases;

·         amendments to the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015; and

·         a new non-fatal strangulation offence

will come into operation on such day or days as the Department of Justice may appoint.


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