Internet safety for children and young people: national action plan

Refreshed action plan on internet safety for children and young people to ensure appropriate training, support and information is in place.

Annex A


The Communications Act 2003, Section 127
It is an offence to send a message which is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character

The Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982, Sections 52 and 52A
It is an offence to have in your possession or to make, take or distribute indecent images of children

The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, Sections 6, 23, 24, 33 and 34
It is an offence to coerce a person, or to cause a child under the age of 16, to view a sexual image or receive a sexual communication, where it is done for the purpose of obtaining sexual gratification or causing the recipient fear, alarm or distress.

The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016
When it comes into force, it will criminalise the non-consensual sharing of intimate images of another person.

The 2016 Act will also introduce Sexual Risk Orders ( SROs) which will strengthen and streamline the current risk of sexual harm order provisions in the Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005. SROs may be made in relation to a person without a conviction for a sexual offence (or any offence), but who poses a risk of sexual harm. The SRO may be made by the court on application, by the police, where an individual has done an act of a sexual nature, e.g. engaged in sexually explicit conduct or communication with a child or children.

Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010, Section 38 and 39
It is an offence to for a person to behave in a threatening or abusive manner, where that behaviour would be likely to cause a reasonable person to feel fear or alarm

Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, it may be possible to use the offence of stalking to prosecute a person who publishes any statement relating to a person or purporting to originate from that person or from another person that causes them to feel fear or alarm

Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005, Sections 1, 9, 10 11 and 12
It is an offence (often referred to as an offence of 'grooming') for a person intentionally to meet, travel with the intention of meeting, or make arrangements with the intention of meeting a child under the age of 16 in any part of the world, if that person has met or communicated with the child on at least one earlier occasion, and intends to engage in unlawful sexual activity involving the child or in the presence of the child either at the time of the meeting or after the meeting.

It is also an offence to pay for the sexual services of a child or to be involved in facilitating a child's involvement in child pornography.

Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005, Sections 2 - 8
These sections make provision for Risk of Sexual Harm Orders ( RSHOs). The purpose of this order is to give courts the power to place conditions on someone who is behaving in such a way which suggests that they pose a risk of sexual harm to a particular child or children generally. RSHOs can be made in respect of any person of any age if it appears to the police that that person has, on at least two occasions, engaged in certain inappropriate sexual conduct or communication with a child or children (under 16), and as a result there is reasonable cause to believe that it is necessary for the order to be made.

Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012, Section 6
It is an offence to communicate material (including images) to someone that contains or implies a threat or incitement to carry out serious violence against a person or group of people. The communication must be likely to cause a reasonable person fear or alarm and be sent with the intent to, or recklessness as to whether it will, cause fear or alarm

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 - Section 1
Section 1 sets out the offence of human trafficking. There are two parts to the offence: the relevant action and an intention to exploit or knowledge of likely exploitation [3] ; both are needed for an offence to be committed.

The first part of the offence is carrying out a relevant action with regard to another person. It does not matter whether that other person consents to that action being taken.

A relevant action includes any of the following:

  • Recruiting another person;
  • Transporting or transferring another person;
  • Harbouring or receiving another person;
  • Exchanging control over, or transferring control over another person;
  • Arranging or facilitating (without necessarily doing), any of the actions above.

The internet could play a role in these actions.

Travel from one place to another is not a required action for there to be an offence of human trafficking in Scotland, although it can form part of the offence.

Involving a person in the making or production of materials which are classified as obscene under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982 (i.e. 'extreme' or child pornography) is included in the definition of exploitation. The definition also includes circumstances where the person has been the victim of certain sexual offences listed in section 3(5) of the Act, such as rape, sexual assault or child-sex offences.

Where a person has committed the offence of human trafficking against a child, then section 6 of the Act requires a court to take that into account in sentencing and explain what part that consideration played in sentencing. It allows the court to increase the sentence it would have given in respect of the human trafficking, because it was committed against a child. It also requires the conviction to be recorded in a way which highlights the fact that it was committed against a child. In this Act, a child is a person under the age of 18.


Email: Jennifer Stenton

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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