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The amendments would make it clear that the prostitution and child pornography and trafficking offences cover the situation where the offender committed the act in return for, or in the expectation of, sexual services. In the case of the offence of paying for sex with a child, the amendments make it clear that a person can pay for sex with a child by providing or promising to provide sexual services.
The police have reported cases to us in which paedophiles provide children for their acquaintances sexually to exploit in return for being able to have sex with other children to which the exploiter can provide them access. The amendments would cover such situations and enable us to prosecute such people.
Although it is possible to argue that it would be harder to prove that type of "payment" or "gain" than, for example, a direct cash or goods transaction, in some cases it may be possible to prove it by way of witness testimony, written e-mails, letters or other communications. For that reason, it is important that the provision is included specifically. I beg to move.
The Metropolitan Police believe that a clearer distinction should be made between child and adult pornography. They are concerned that adults may associate pornography with the kind of adult pornography that usually involves willing participation. It is different with children. They are not willing participants in pornography. The images are the result of children being abusedeither sexually or through the abuse of trust. My widened definition is intended to capture that abuse.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: I support this amendment because it appears to cover wider dimensions of abuse and it does so in a more specific form. Therefore it is apt to tighten up the drafting of the Bill.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland: I support the amendment and want to make an additional point to those raised by the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes. For many years, children's organisations have struggled to change the nomenclature used in relation to children suffering this form of abuse from prostitution. This offence involves not young prostitutes but children suffering abuse. Although I am critical of the Bill for failing to have any therapeutic content, the approach would have a great emotional effect on young people, who would see that abuse, not prostitution, was referred to. That would be hugely helpful.
Lord Hylton: I support the thrust of the amendment and commend to the noble and learned Lord the Minister the recent report from the NSPCC, which was published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and carried out in collaboration with a university research department. It studies 55 cases of persons under 18 who have been severely abused.
Baroness Walmsley: From these Benches, we, too, support the amendment. The noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, made a very good case and the noble Baroness, Lady Howarth, has experience par excellence in this field. Her reference to the fact that young people of the age involved are not prostitutes but abused children was very pertinent. We support the amendment.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: We all agree on the principle in relation to the amendment and we all agree that there is an absolutely clear distinction between people who are adults who go into prostitution and the children whom we are seeking to protect in this regard. I completely sympathise with the noble Baroness's comments.
The advice that I am getting, which seems entirely right, is that the amendment would make it harder rather than easier to get a conviction in the courts. If one added the words "abused" or "abusive", they would need to be defined for the purposes of the charge. The noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Alloway, supported the change because it "tightened up" the
I fully appreciate the principle of the amendment but I assure those noble Lords who support it that it would have precisely the opposite effect to that which they intend. The provision would make it much harder rather than easier to get a conviction in this regard. I am sympathetic to the amendment's intent but I strongly urge the noble Baroness to think again about it.
Baroness Noakes: I thank the noble and learned Lord for that; I am glad that he is sympathetic to the amendment's aim. There is something to be said for the words used in defining the offence. I was trying to make that point, and we discussed it at length on our first day in Committee in relation to the offence of rapewe discussed whether that had a meaning that should not be changed by the Bill. I shall reflect on what the noble and learned Lord said.
I should have thought that with regard to children it will not be any more difficult to prove abuse because the situation of child prostitution or child pornography is, by definition, abusive. That was my point. The amendment would ensure that juries understand that we are dealing with the abuse of children, not with something that they may associate with what adults do freely.
Two thoughts lie behind the amendments. The first is that requiring the prosecution to prove that the defendant acted in the expectation of gain would simply add an unnecessary hurdle. With regard to Clause 55, is it not enough that the person intentionally causes the child to become a prostitute or be involved in child pornography? Why does the expectation of financial gain also have to be proved? What if the person acts in that way for no more than the perverse satisfaction of seeing a young life ruined? Would we say that no offence had been committed?
My second reason for the amendment is that confining the offence to financial gain is unnecessary and potentially wrong. Paedophiles get children involved in pornography partly so that they can trade the resulting indecent images for yet more indecent images. The common currency of paedophiles often is not money; it is the disgusting material that feeds their
The amendments are intended to find out from the Government why they believe that gain is an essential part of the definition of the offence and, from a public policy perspective, what it adds to the offence. I beg to move.
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