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There is some overlap with the offences of rape and sexual assault by penetration.

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The maximum penalty could be life imprisonment for rape, sexual assault, sexual assault by penetration, or causing a young child to participate in sexual activity.

This therefore means that there is no statutory duty under criminal law to report to the police cases of sexual activity involving children under the age of 16 under articles 16 to 19 of the Order, where the other party is aged under 18.

This exclusion does not apply to information about offences against children under 13, as set out in Articles 12 to 15 of the Order.

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.[3] 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.

It is an offence for someone, male or female, intentionally to penetrate the vagina or anus of another person with a part of their body or anything else, without their consent. Practitioners who legitimately conduct intimate searches or medical examinations are excluded from this offence.

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