23rd May 2019

Ben Hoare Bell Partner Cris McCurley appeared on BBC Woman’s Hour today. Here she is in the studio preparing for her interview. In this blog Cris talks us through what she was discussing on the programme. To listen to the full programme please click here to be taken to the BBC website.

Cris McCurley appearing on BBC Woman's Hour
Cris McCurley appearing on BBC Woman’s Hour

It was a real pleasure to be on BBC Woman’s Hour today with Jenni Murray and Amanda NAylor, Head of Child Sexual Abuse at Barnardo’s. We discussed the law and attitudes to relationships between people in a position of trust, such as teachers with pupils in their care below the age of 18.

Anyone following the Emmerdale teacher/pupil story line will be aware of the issue, but Barnardo’s research pointed to the fact that around 35% of people between the ages of 18-35 do not think this kind of relationship is against the law provided the pupil is 16 or 17 years old.

In law the age of sexual consent for men and women is 16 except where one of the people in the relationship is over 18 and in a position of trust towards the other party. The maximum sentence for this offence is 5 years in prison. Barnardo’s and the NSPCC are seeking a change to the law to bring in others who are in a position of trust (such as faith leaders, sports coaches and choirmasters) but who currently do not come under this legislation.

Northumbria Police recorded 160 incidents of abuse by ‘trusted adults’ who do not come under this law.

We support the campaign to change the Sexual Offences Act 2003 to include these currently unrestricted adults working with children.

Blog by Cris McCurley, Partner and Family solicitor