Where no offence-specific guideline exists, refer to General guideline: overarching principles
Triable either way
Maximum: 14 years’ custody
For offences committed on or after 3 December 2012, these are offences listed in Part 1 of Schedule 15 for the purposes of sections 273 and 283 (life sentence for second listed offence) of the Sentencing Code.
These are specified offences for the purposes of sections 266 and 279 (extended sentence of imprisonment for certain violent, sexual or terrorism offences) of the Sentencing Code.
When sentencing a section 14 offence, sentencers should refer to the guideline for the applicable, substantive offence of arranging or facilitating under sections 9 to 12:
- Sexual activity with a child, Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.9
- Causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.10
- Engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.11
- Causing a child to watch a sexual act, Sexual Offences Act 2003, s.12
The level of harm should be determined by reference to the type of activity arranged or facilitated. Where the activity takes place, sentences commensurate with the applicable starting point and range will ordinarily be appropriate.
No sexual activity need take place for a section 14 offence to be committed, including in instances where no child victim exists. In such cases the court should identify the category of harm on the basis of the sexual activity the offender intended, and then apply a downward adjustment at step two to reflect the fact that no or lesser harm actually resulted.
The extent of this adjustment will be specific to the facts of the case. In cases where an offender is only prevented by the police or others from conducting the intended sexual activity at a late stage, or where a child victim does not exist and, but for this fact, the offender would have carried out the intended sexual activity, a small reduction within the category range will usually be appropriate.
Where, for instance, an offender voluntarily desisted at an early stage a larger reduction is likely to be appropriate, potentially going outside the category range.
In either instance, it may be the case that a more severe sentence is imposed in a case where very serious sexual activity was intended but did not take place than in a case where relatively less serious sexual activity did take place.
The sentence will then be subject to further adjustment for aggravating and mitigating features, in the usual way.
For offences involving significant commercial exploitation and/or an international element, it may be appropriate to increase a sentence to a point above the category range. In exceptional cases, such as where a vulnerable offender performed a limited role, having been coerced or exploited by others, sentences below the range may be appropriate.