Sexual Offences Against Children

Sexual Penetration with a Child Under 12

In October 2015, the Council began a project examining factors contributing to:

  • a characterisation or assessment of offence seriousness by the courts in cases involving sexual penetration with a child under 12 compared with cases of rape
  • a lower proportion of charges receiving imprisonment for sexual penetration with a child under 12 than for rape
  • a shorter median imprisonment sentence for charges of sexual penetration with a child under 12 than for charges of rape.

This examination involved both quantitative and qualitative research techniques.

In June 2016, the Council published its findings in Sentencing of Offenders: Sexual Penetration with a Child under 12.

This project builds on the Council’s previous work in this area including:

Maximum Penalties for Sexual Penetration with a Child under 16

Sexual penetration with a child under 16 carries different maximum penalties depending the circumstances of the offence.

In December 2008, the then Attorney-General asked the Sentencing Advisory Council to advise on the adequacy of the current maximum penalties that apply to the different circumstances in which the offence of sexual penetration with a child under the age of 16 may be committed.

Section 45 of the Crimes Act 1958 provides that the following penalties apply depending on the age of the victim and, in certain circumstances, the relationship between the victim and the offender:

  • when the victim of this offence is aged under 10 at the time of the offence – maximum of 25 years’ imprisonment
  • when the victim is aged between 10 and under 16 and is under the care, supervision or authority of the accused – maximum 15 years’ imprisonment
  • when the victim is (otherwise) aged between 10 and under 16 – maximum 10 years’ imprisonment.

The Council released a Consultation Paper and its Sentencing for Sexual Penetration Offences: A Statistical Report in March 2009. The Maximum Penalties for Sexual Penetration with a Child under 16 Report was released in September 2009.