Dating for under 16s
Separate guidance has been issued by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to inform practitioners and professionals about the implications of the law on child protection procedures. Attention is also drawn to the Regional Area Child Protection Policy and Procedures.Health professionals in the UK may provide contraceptive advice and treatment to young people under 16 if, in their clinical judgement, they believe it is in the young person’s best medical interests and the young person is able to give what is considered to be informed consent.[2, 4, 5, 6] The various sexual offences laws in force in the UK do not affect the ability of professionals to provide confidential sexual health advice, information or treatment.
There is a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for rape, assault by penetration, and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.Last updated April 2015 This factsheet summarises some of the key points of UK law relating to sexual behaviour. This factsheet is not currently available as a PDF.RELATED FACTSHEET Sex and the Law, Northern Ireland (PDF) The age of consent to any form of sexual activity is 16 for both men and women.There is no defence of mistaken belief about the age of the child, as there is in cases involving 13–15 year olds.Article 79 of The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 amended “relevant offence” for section 5(1) of the Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) 1967 to exclude the duty to report information about the commission of an offence under Article 20.The Sexual Offences (Northern Ireland) Order 2008 introduced a series of laws to protect children under 16 from abuse.
However, the law is not intended to prosecute mutually agreed teenage sexual activity between two young people of a similar age, unless it involves abuse or exploitation.
Each specifically states that it is not an offence provide information, advice and/or treatment if it is in order to protect the young person’s sexual health, physical safety or emotional wellbeing.
In each UK country, a man would commit rape if he intentionally penetrates with his penis the vagina, mouth or anus of another person, male or female, without that person’s consent or if they are under 13, as young people aged 12 and under are not legally able to give consent to any sexual activity.
This particular sexual offence can only be committed by a man.
A woman cannot be charged with the offence of rape as this is defined as penile penetration, but she could be charged with another offence such as causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent, sexual coercion or assault, or assault by penetration.
In Northern Ireland it is an offence (sexual assault) for a person intentionally to touch sexually another person without reasonable belief that they consented.