Indecent Images

A person commits this offence if he possess, distributes or produces indecent photography of children. This offence can also extend to animals.

Offence Nature Possession Distribution Production
Possession of images involving penetrative sexual activity with a child. 26 weeks – 3 years 2 – 5 years 4 – 9 years
Possession of images involving non-penetrative sexual activity. High Level Community order – 18 months 26 weeks – 2 years 1 – 4 years
Possession of other indecent images not mentioned above Medium Level Community order – 26 weeks High Level Community order – 26 weeks 1 – 3 years

How we can help

The arrival of the internet has brought an abundance of pornographic websites. Whilst the vast majority of these websites are lawful in their content, a growing minority contain illegal pornography. Access to these illegal sites has served to corrupt people who would otherwise have never thought about such material. It has also led to innocent computer users being suspected of accessing illegal sites.

The government’s apparent failure to stop such websites at source is something that brings people to the criminal courts who would never expect to be there. Even if one website is closed down, another immediately opens.

We are discreet and non-judgemental

The accessibility of indecent images online has drawn the attention of law enforcement agencies, including the National Crime Agency and police forces across the UK. In 2014 – 2015 the use of secret software during Operation Notarise, that tracks peer to peer sharing of illegal images, resulted in the identification of over 25,000 individuals, with 745 arrests.

You may have noted that the number of arrests is relatively small compared with the number of people accessing illegal images. The police will often concentrate investigations on people in positions of trust, such a doctors, teachers, social workers and police officers.  People already charged under Operation Notarise include teachers, a border agency officer, civil servants, a GP, medical technicians, one paediatrician, police officers, and even a magistrate.

As well as facing criminal proceedings, those accused may also face employment disciplinary proceedings or fitness to practice investigations that may result in suspension and loss of livelihood.

Allegations can be particularly distressing. People who would otherwise be classed as ordinary, hard working and law abiding may suddenly be reported in local and national media as ‘sex offenders’. A conviction is likely to bring attention from social services, impacting access to their own children.

An increasing number of children are also being accused of offences involving indecent images – committed against other children. An example being a recent case of a 14 year old school boy who sent nude photographs of himself to a 14 year old girl at his school. The increase in the social phenomenon known as ‘sexting’ has the potential of criminalising a huge number of children who would, to most people, be seen as doing little wrong.




What are indecent images?

There is confusion as to what actually amounts to “indecent images”. This is a legal term which actually includes indecent video, photographs and computer data capable of conversion into a photo or video file. The test for ‘indecency’ is for the jury to decide based on the recognised standard of what is acceptable.

The indecent image must be of a child. A ‘child’ is someone less that 18 years old.

Making indecent images

Under the Protection of Children Act 1978 it is an offence to take, allow to be taken, or otherwise make indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs. A pseudo-photograph is an image which looks like a photograph but was not made using a camera. Please note the following;

  • ‘Making’ an image includes downloading an image from a web page to a computer screen.
  • It is also an offence to distribute or show such images.
  • Possessing images with a view to later distributing or showing them is also an offence.
  • It is illegal to advertise to others about the distribution or making of images.
  • The prosecution has to prove that the making or possession of such images was deliberate and with knowledge.
  • Accidental downloading may not be an offence.



Defences

It will not be an offence if:

  • There is a legitimate reason to possess such images. This would include possession for the purposes of law enforcement or in the context of criminal proceedings.
  • If the defendant has not seen the images. This may apply where the images appear in a computer cache among many legal images, and could have been downloaded without appearing on a computer screen.
  • The defendant did not have cause or suspicion that the images were indecent.
  • If the image is of a spouse or partner and is over the age of 16.
  • The image was sent to the defendant without being requested and was not kept for an unreasonable time. 

Want to know more?

Our team of solicitors are constantly commenting on the latest legal developments. If you want to know more about sexual offences, read our blog.

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PCD Solicitors began challenging the police before I was charged. The investigation was dropped 8 weeks later.

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