The press have released very few details regarding the arrest and investigation of a premier league footballer suspected to be involved in the commission of child sex offences. Earlier this month the footballer’s home was subjected to the search and seizure procedure carried out by Greater Manchester Police, he was subsequently arrested and interviewed, and later released on bail. For legal reasons the name of this suspect cannot be disclosed to the public at this stage.
There are a number of sexual offences that warrant the search of a property, seizure of property and subsequent arrest and interview. Below we have provided information on some of the most common offences we are dealing with on a daily basis, all of which are very serious offences and carry lengthy custodial sentences.
Indecent images of children
There are various offences that concern indecent photographs of children:
- Making indecent photographs of children;
- Possession of indecent photographs of children;
- Distribution of indecent photographs of children and;
- Production of indecent photographs of children
All of the above offences would result in property being searched and seized from a suspects home, work place and any other addresses they may use. Each offence concerning indecent images and or videos of children has its own elements that must be proven before a suspect can be charged or convicted and this area of law can become very complicated due to the technical issues that require examinations in such cases.
Sexual communications with a child
Sexual communication with a child is an offence contrary to section 15A of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. There are a number of elements that must be proven for this offence to be committed:
- The person suspected of committing the offence must be over the age of 18
- They must reasonably believe that the person that they are communicating with is under the age of 16
- The communication must be intentional
- The conversation must be for the purpose of sexual gratification
- The communication must be sexual or intended to make the other person’s communication to be sexual
It is often such conversations start in a chat rooms such as KIK messenger or on an over 18’s dating website. However, in some cases people behind the screens engaging on such websites are not always legitimate and there are many instances where both the police and hunter groups are using social media sites to pose as children and to reach out to adults who may go on to unintentionally commit a child sex offence.
Arranging or facilitating a child sex offence
Section 14 of the Sexual Offences Act makes it an offence to arrange or facilitate the commission of a child sex offence. The offences is made out if an adult has arranged or facilitated with a child or another adult to commit a sexual offence against a child. The offences include:
- Child sex offences committed by children
- Causing a child to watch a sexual act
- Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child
- Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity
- Sexual activity with a child
Meeting a child following sexual grooming
This offence usually also take places where an adult and a child under the age of 16 have been communicating and there has been an arrangement to meet or, they have previously met. The meeting must be intentional and the adult must have the intentions to commit a relevant sexual offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Inciting a child to engage in sexual activity
We often represent client’s who are accused of inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and this offence is usually seen alongside sexual communications with a child. The most common commission of this offence takes place within conversations between a child and an adult, where the adult has persuaded the child to carry out sexual acts on themselves or on others. This offence can also take place face to face between an adult and a child and is not restricted to being within electronic communication.
What leads the police to attend a suspects property?
The police receive information in various ways, we are seeing more often the reports made to the police by various hunter groups, family members who have found images on a computer/phone and also the national crime agency, who receive information regarding a person’s IP address if it is alerted that illegal content is being obtained or there are offences being committed. The information received by police in such offences is almost always reliable however, it does not always mean the elements of the offences are made out or the suspect does not have a defence.
The police will put all seized property through the forensic procedure, data downloads will take place by a high tech crime unit and this can frustratingly take a number of months depending on the complexity of the case and number of devices seized. During the process the police may re interview a suspect to obtain their comments on any content that has been found.
What we can do for you throughout this process
Always be represented by a solicitor interview, we cannot stress the importance of this. It is important all potential police evidence is considered and where necessary challenged. When a criminal matter proceeds through the criminal justice system the onus is on the prosecuting authorities to prove the case and therefore, the evidence must be strong enough and reliable for the Crown Prosecuting Service to authorise any charge. What we look at throughout the investigation and prosecution of a suspect:
Has the evidence been obtained lawfully, if not why not and does this affect its reliability?
Have the police acted fairly and in accordance with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984?
Where has the police intelligence come from?
The reliability of forensic evidence
What offences, if any, are made out in law?
Can the police rely on the evidence?
How strong is the evidence?
Does the suspect have any defences in law?
PCD solicitors specialise in the representation of all suspects accused of committing a sexual offence during a police investigation and throughout the prosecution process. We currently have a 100% success rate (from August 2020 - July 2021) in sexual assault and rape cases being discontinued at the police investigative stage. We work robustly to ensure no stone is unturned and that client’s case is put forward in the strongest possible way at each stage of their case.
If you, a family member or friend require advice relating to any sexual offence, please call our offices for a strictly confidential chat with one of our specialist lawyers please contact our office on 0151 705 8488.