Date lodged: 8 June 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what plans it has to introduce specific legislation to tackle the grooming of (a) children and (b) adults.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 22 June 2018
Section 1 of the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005 provides for an offence of 'meeting a child following certain preliminary contact'. This is commonly referred to as a 'grooming' offence.
There is no specific criminal offence concerning the 'grooming' of adults. However, there a number of criminal offences that may be used to prosecute a person who 'grooms' an adult for the purpose of abusing or exploiting them. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, these may include the offence of improper use of a public electronic communications network at section 127 of the Communications Act 2003, offences concerning indecent communication and causing persons to see sexual images in the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, offences concerning human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour in the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, and common law fraud.
The Scottish Government has no plans to introduce further specific legislation concerning 'grooming' at this time. However, the Scottish Government monitors the effectiveness of legislation on an on-going basis in conjunction with justice system partners. We will carefully consider any evidence that suggests there is any gap in the laws in place to deal with exploitation and abuse of either children or adults.