Sexual exploitation or abuse

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Offences that may cover different forms of sexual exploitation and abuse and preventative strategies for each behaviour

First published
Written by College of Policing

Human trafficking, forced prostitution, modern slavery

Relevant offences that may cover the behaviour (dependent on the circumstances of the case)

  • It is an offence under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to hold another in slavery or servitude or to require another to perform forced or compulsory labour.

Preventative strategies

Sex for rent (where rooms for rent are provided in return for sex)

Relevant offences that may cover the behaviour (dependent on the circumstances of the case)

  • Sex for rent, where landlords offer accommodation in exchange for sex, can lead to the exploitation of highly vulnerable people who are struggling to obtain accommodation. There are existing criminal offences in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 that address these behaviours – for example, controlling prostitution for gain.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has published guidance about the issue of sex for rent
  • The Housing and Planning Act 2016 introduced banning orders to prevent those convicted of serious offences from letting or managing property. 

Preventative strategies

Sexual exploitation and grooming

Relevant offences that may cover the behaviour (dependent on the circumstances of the case)

Preventative strategies

Spiking drinks (administering a substance with intent), injection spiking

Relevant offences that may cover the behaviour (dependent on the circumstances of the case)

  • Under Sexual Offences Act 2003, s 61, a person (‘A’) commits an offence if he intentionally administers a substance to, or causes a substance to be taken by, another person (‘B’):
    • knowing that B does not consent
    • with the intention of stupefying or overpowering B, so as to enable any person to engage in a sexual activity that involves B
  • Injection spiking will also be an assault. Appropriate charges should be considered where the motivation is unclear or cannot be proved. Consider also whether the victim could be considered particularly vulnerable for the purposes of additional sentencing, under the Sentencing Council rules (see ‘Physical assaults’).

Preventative strategies