Tough new laws that make it a criminal offence for an adult to send sexually explicit messages to a child under 16 are still not being enforced almost two years after they were passed by parliament, child protection campaigners have said.
The offence, which updated existing laws to include sexting and other online communications, was made a criminal act under section 67 of the Serious Crime Act in March 2015.
However, the NSPCC, which campaigned for the law, said no start date has been set to bring the new law into force, meaning police cannot charge anyone with the offence.
Labour MP Louise Haigh, shadow minister for the digital economy, wrote to the justice secretary, Liz Truss , saying the failure to enforce the law some 23 months after it was enacted was “leaving our children at risk from grooming”.
If enforced, the law would mean anyone over 18 in England and Wales who sent a sexually explicit message to a child, or attempted to elicit the child to send something explicit themselves, could face up to two years in prison.
home secretary, expressed her support for the offence in the Commons in 2014 before it was inserted into the bill. “We do need to be able to intervene early so predatory behaviour is tackled before a child is put at risk,” she said.
The government’s own assessment argued the new law was “necessary to … allow authorities to intervene earlier to prevent more serious offending against children” and to bring offences up-to-date with…