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Lord Lucas: I understand what the noble and learned Lord is saying, but I am not yet convinced. I think that my problems arise from Clause 111(2) where,

is defined by the defendant doing the acts in Clause 110(3). In other words, the harm from which protection is sought is the harm of being given material relating to sexual activity or communications relating to sexual activity. My noble friend Lady Blatch and I will doubtless be sitting on these Benches when we again discuss Clause 28. The Minister will doubtless remember some of the material that was displayed in the House when we last considered it. Many parents might feel that some of the material distributed by official bodies could cause psychological harm if inflicted on young people. Those of a religious persuasion might feel that many of the currently available teenage magazines are likely to do such harm.

The harm to which a child is likely to be exposed is not defined anywhere else in the Bill. It is simply defined as psychological harm. I am not at all clear that that test is set high enough to avoid either the type of troubles which the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley, described or the more run-of-the-mill activities, in our rather permissive world, in which people are dealing with children who are brought up in a much stricter way and might have considerable difficulty in dealing with some of the materials that are commonly available.

Baroness Blatch: Does my noble friend agree that it is possible for seriously pornographic material, whether videotapes or written material, to be distributed not only for sexual gratification but because of wilfulness or for money? Once the provision is restricted to having to prove obtaining sexual gratification, the scope of the courts will be limited.

Lord Lucas: Yes, I do. I was not trying to amend the wording of the amendment. I agree that we have discussed this before. I think that I have rather given in to the persuasive powers of the noble and learned Lord and accepted that this is probably the wrong way of tackling the issue. What worries me is that we are potentially criminalising a fairly wide range of activities which, if not usual activities, are accepted by some parts of society. I do not see where we will find protection for those whom we may wish to protect except, as my noble friend says, in the good sense of the chief officer of police. The provision seems to have been drawn very wide. We do not seem to be allowing ourselves the opportunity to catch those whom we wish to catch rather than a lot of innocent people. I shall read carefully in Hansard what the noble and

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learned Lord has said and return to the matter at Report if necessary. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 459 not moved.]

Baroness Noakes moved Amendment No. 460:

    Page 56, line 31, at end insert—

"( ) communicating with a child in such a way as to induce the child to believe that the person is himself a child or is significantly younger than the person's actual age."

The noble Baroness said: I rise to move Amendment No. 460 which adds another act that could trigger an application for a risk of sexual harm order under subsection (3) of Clause 110. At present all of the acts under subsection (3) are sexual in nature. My Amendment No. 460 adds,

    "communicating with a child in such a way as to induce the child to believe that the person is himself a child or is significantly younger than the person's actual age".

My concern in moving the amendment is to ensure that we have maximum protection for children. We support the concept of risk of sexual harm orders. In the White Paper Protecting the Public the Government said that these new orders would,

    "complement the new offence of grooming but will cover a much wider spectrum of behaviour".

The new orders will apply in some respects to a narrower range of activities than the sexual grooming offence under Clause 17. The grooming of children by paedophiles is often very subtle and does not always include sexual content, as I pointed out in our debate on Clause 17. Groomers work hard to gain the trust of potential victims and some do this by pretending to be only a little older than the potential victim. That is what the Metropolitan Police told us.

The new risk of sexual harm orders apply only where there has been sexual communication with a child. That will account for only a proportion of those who are stalking the Internet chat rooms.

What of the ones who pretend to be of like age with the child and whose communications have not been sexually explicit? They are not caught by the risk of sexual harm orders and that is why I said the new orders would apply to a narrower range of activities than Clause 17.

The Public Bill Office had to be persuaded to take this amendment because it said that the amendment would catch baby talk. I do not think that is a problem because for an order to be made some reasonable cause for the order has to be proved. In many ways this is analogous to Clause 17, which relies in part on acts which, more often than not, are innocent. If there is a better way of expressing the dangers that arise for children from people who stalk them without using explicitly sexual language, particularly on the Internet, then I would welcome looking at any such drafting. I beg to move.

Baroness Blatch: My understanding is that this amendment is subsumed in paragraph (d) already. If we restrict the provision to include communicating

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with a child in such a way as to induce the child to believe the person himself is a child or is significantly younger than their actual age, people who are not pretending to be any age other than the age they actually are will not be caught. If it is simply left at communicating with a child where any part of the communication is sexual—whether that person is pretending to be younger or not—then they could be subject to an order. Once that becomes the criterion by which someone is judged, then it will allow to go free somebody who is not pretending to be significantly younger than the person they are talking to.

Baroness Noakes: I was not seeking to remove paragraph (d). I was adding an additional possibility for catching people who ought to be prevented from stalking children on the Internet.

Baroness Blatch: I think it is still subsumed in (d). I think it would be an aggravating factor, but it seems to me that it is subsumed in (d).

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I think I take the view of the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, if I have understood the amendment of the noble Baroness correctly. She is saying that even if a person says nothing remotely sexual but seeks to deceive the person with whom he or she is communicating that he or she is significantly younger than he or she is, that of itself should be a trigger fact. It could be an innocent conversation with no remote reference to sex, but it would be a trigger fact.

We oppose the amendment and think it is going too far, although we understand why the noble Baroness proposed it. As the noble Baroness pointed out, all of the acts in Clause 110(3) are explicitly sexual and could give cause for concern that the adult might pose harm to the child or children once the act is committed. The same could not be said for deception about age. There are circumstances in which one could envisage an adult lying about their age; for example, someone researching a book for children may go into a chat room pretending to be a child so as to discuss TV programmes and see what children like to watch. An adult with a mental impairment who has the mental age of a child may falsify his age online to be accepted by those he feels he wants to communicate with. Although the amendment would leave in place the requirement for the court to be satisfied that an order was necessary to protect children from harm by the defendant, deceit about age does not provide a sufficiently robust justification to qualify as behaviour triggering the RSHO.

Moreover, the amendment would not provide sufficient certainty about the behaviour that would render a person liable for an RSHO. If an 18 year-old communicated with a 15 year-old in an Internet chat room and induced the child to believe that he was 16, would that meet the requirement of pretending to be significantly younger than his actual age? If he were 19 and pretending to be 16, would that qualify?

Concern has been expressed that the RSHO is going too far in that it makes behaviour that is not itself criminal the subject of a civil preventive order. There

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are other precedents for that, including the anti-social behaviour order, and we think that we have got the trigger behaviour for the RSHO about right. Making deception about age a trigger for the RSHO would be a step too far and would create the risk of undermining the orders, which have an important role to play in protecting children.

I fully appreciate the reasons why the amendment was moved, but, broadly speaking, the line has been drawn in the right place, and, therefore, I resist the amendment.

1.45 a.m.

Baroness Blatch: Before my noble friend replies, I must ask her a question. As my noble friend suggested, the amendment would insert a new paragraph (e). Paragraphs (a), (b), (c) and (d) all have a sexual connotation in one way or another. Paragraph (a) refers to sexual activity, (b) refers to sexual images, (c) relates to sexual activity and (d) refers to sexual communication. However, the new paragraph (e) refers to,

    "communicating . . . in such a way as to induce the child to believe"

that the person is younger than he actually is. Is that the offence? Ought there not to be some form of words, such as "with a view to discussing sex" or "with a view to inciting sex"?

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