First Name: Elizabeth
Surname: Lawson
Position: Research Student


A Comparative Study Of Domestic Legislation In Scotland And Canada Relating To Child Sexual Exploitation Via New Technologies And Barriers To Prosecution


My Doctoral thesis involves a comparative study of the national laws of Scotland and Canada in relation to child sexual exploitation via the internet and new technologies. Problems in the prosecution of these crimes have been evidenced especially in the areas of the terminology used in both national legislation and international instruments, jurisdictional issues, forensic investigation and evidential matters and sentencing policy. The primary aim of my study is to compare and contrast the national responses in Canada and Scotland to the international legal framework that has developed in this area and to assess their efficacy and any barriers that may exist to the successful prosecution of these crimes. The secondary aim is to assess the competency of the international legal framework and to look at where child sexual exploitation (CSE) sits in international law. Current research has largely focussed on identifying the characteristics of the online activities of children, the risk factors relating to exploitation and the social and psychological effects of exploitation.

My hypothesis is that the current international legal framework is not sufficient to be able to deal effectively with the number and type of offences that occur relating to CSE in relation to new technologies. This in turn leads to a lack of harmonisation in national laws and inadequacies that enable offenders to escape prosecution or receive insufficient sentences.  In order to build on the current research findings this my research will examine the current legislation and case law and the development of the international legal framework in order to assess the efficacy of current law and practices, especially in the light of the fast pace of technological advances. The study will involve a mixed methodology of desk related study, quantitative and qualitative methods. This will involve a review of the current literature on CSE in both Scotland and Canada and the larger international picture. This will be followed by a review of cases in Scotland and Canada from 2005 to the present. A statistical analysis will then be made of the outcomes. I then plan to undertake a quantitative study using questionnaire which will be aimed at law enforcement officers, legal professionals and members of the judiciary in order to gain an understanding of perceptions regarding the efficacy of current laws and procedures. This will be followed by Interviews which will be carried out using a qualitative methodology in order to delve deeper into areas of concern highlighted during the questionnaire stage. The aim of this study is highlight any problematic areas in the law which may create barriers in prosecuting child sexual exploitation offences and to help inform future law and practise.