Children under the age of 13 are legally deemed incapable of consenting to sexual activity and therefore all incidences of sexual behaviour involving children under 13 should be considered as a potential criminal or child protection matter.
Under the Sexual Offences Act 2003, children under the age of 13 are considered of insufficient age to give consent to sexual activity. The Police must be notified as soon as possible when a criminal offence has been committed or is suspected of having been committed against a child unless there are exceptional reasons not to do so.
Sexual activity with a young person under the age of 16 remains a criminal offence. Where it is consensual and both parties are under the age of 16, there still may be serious consequences for the welfare of these young people.
Young people in this category should be assessed fully against the indicators of abuse. Within this age range, the younger the child/young person, the stronger the presumption that the sexual activity is a matter of concern.
In order to determine whether the relationship presents a risk to the young person, the following factors should be considered. This list is not exhaustive and other factors may be needed to be taken into account: