Why can Police Scotland charge paedophiles over sex texts but officers in England can’t asks charity
Police still cant charge people with sending sexual communications to children in England and Wales as government hasn't set start date for new law
The Westminster government has been accused by a national children’s charity of dragging its feet over implementing a law south of the border which would arm police with new powers to tackle paedophiles.
In 2015 the UK parliament put a new offence on the statute book in England and Wales, which meant an adult would be breaking the law if they sent a sexual communication to an under 16-year-old.
However, it is yet to have a start date set for it to be brought into force despite similar laws having existed in Scotland for six years and authorities having recorded 1,537 offences in that time.
Not doing so means the police south of the border can't actually charge people with the offence.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, has written to UK secretary of state for justice Elizabeth Truss, asking why it has been delayed and demanding that the law is put into force immediately.
“This new offence was supposed to mean that the law could be brought to bear on anyone who grooms children online," he said.
“The public have backed our campaign, parliament has agreed to it and Scotland shows that young victims are bravely coming forward and beginning to reveal the sickening numbers of adults targeting children for abuse, so we cannot understand why the UK government is dragging its feet.
“It is an unacceptable and baffling delay in equipping police in England and Wales in the battle against criminals who are intent on targeting children.”
Since February last year legislation has also been in place in Northern Ireland.
Childline figures also show the number of counselling sessions for children worried about online sexual abuse rose last year (2015-16) by 24% to 3,716.
Matt Forde, national head of service for NSPCC Scotland, added: “The implementation of this law and the number of times it has been used in Scotland shows how vital it is in protecting children.
“It’s absolutely essential that the same measures to protect children are put into force immediately in England and Wales.”