Safeguarding specialists from the force have welcomed an announcement that new legislation’s planned to protect young people at risk of grooming or other abuse from people in “positions of trust”.
While the age of consent is 16, it’s illegal for those in some professions - such as teachers, social workers and doctors - to have a sexual relationship with 16 or 17-year-olds in their care.
Campaigners have long called for a so-called legal loophole to be closed - by expanding the roles the law applies to. The definition will now also include people like sports coaches and faith leaders.
It’s one of several measures in a bill which Parliament is due to include in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.
Force Lead for Child Sexual Abuse Investigation, Detective Chief Inspector Deb Fenny said: “This is very good news for police, children’s services and charities - and other agencies concerned with young people’s safety and welfare.
“Even if they’re above the age of consent, young people can still be vulnerable to exploitation from those who are supposed to be looking after them in the community and this change will be another means of protecting adolescents.”