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Grooming laws catch cellphone paedophiles

Hon Phil Goff Minister of Justice

1 July 2005

Grooming laws catch cellphone paedophiles

Paedophiles sending pre-paid cellphones to children with the intention of meeting them to develop a sexual relationship face up to seven years' jail under sexual grooming laws that came into force in May, says Justice Minister Phil Goff.

Netsafe, a child Internet safety group, yesterday warned parents that sexual predators may send their children pre-paid cellphones in order to develop a relationship.

"The new Crimes Amendment Act that I had passed by Parliament earlier this year extends penalties for sexual abuse against children and creates penalties to deter such abuse occurring," Mr Goff said.

"Contacting children with the intention of encouraging future sexual contact – or sexual grooming – is now an offence, punishable by up to seven years' jail. This means Police now have the ability to act before any actual sexual offending takes place and another victim is created.

"Sexual grooming laws cover all situations where a predator establishes contact with a young person through a meeting, a telephone call or over the Internet with the intention of gaining the child’s trust or confidence and then meeting the child for the purpose of sexual activity.

"It doesn’t matter how, or how many times, the prior communication takes place. Once the predator meets the child, or travels to meet the child, with the intention of committing a sexual offence, then a sexual grooming offence has been committed, whether or not the intended abuse occurs.

"New technology such as the Internet and cellphones have made it easier for predators to groom their intended victims. Criminalising this activity is part of the response, but equally important is the education campaigns run by groups such as NetSafe to ensure that parents and caregivers, as well as children, are aware of the risks and the steps they can take to keep safe," Mr Goff said.


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