Sexual activity

The age of consent to any form of sexual activity in England and Wales is 16 for both men and women. The age of consent is the same regardless of the gender or sexual orientation of a person and whether the sexual activity is between people of the same or different gender.

It is an offence for anyone to have any sexual activity with a person under the age of 16. However, Home Office guidance [1] is clear that there is no intention to prosecute teenagers under the age of 16 where both mutually agree and where they are of a similar age.

It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to have any sexual activity with a person under the age of 18 if the older person holds a position of trust (for example a teacher or social worker) as such sexual activity is an abuse of the position of trust.

The Sexual Offences Act 2003 provides specific legal protection for children aged 12 and under who cannot legally give their consent to any form of sexual activity. There is a maximum sentence of life imprisonment for rape, assault by penetration, and causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. (ref Family Planning Association, The Law on Sex Factsheet April 2015).

Schools and other agencies will / may have a confidentiality policy which clearly dictates what information they will pass to interested parties in relation to under  age sexual activity if the young person is aged 13 years and above.

Young people can access confidential support via Solent Sexual Health promotion practitioners by referral. Solent Sexual Health Promotion offer 1:1 brief interventions for young people engaging in sexual risk taking behaviour.

Alternatively they can access their Sexual Health clinic or a Sexual Health Outreach Nurse for contraception, STI testing, treatment and information. Details available via NHS Let's talk about it.

Trained youth support practitioners are available at a range of community venues and can provide confidential information, advice and signposting. Details available via Your Future service directory.

Young people can access free condoms, chlamydia testing and pregnancy testing from a range of community settings. Details available via Get it on.

Free Emergency Hormonal Contraception (EHC) is available from Pharmacies across Hampshire. Please phone the pharmacy before attending to ensure the trained pharmacist is available to dispense the EHC. Young people can also access free EHC from their GP or local sexual health clinic. Details can be found at Get it on.

More detailed information is available from Hampshire Safeguarding Children Board.