Indecent images / extreme pornography offences

The offences

There are several offences which can be charged.

Possessing extreme pornography

Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 s 63.

The maximum sentence is 3 years or 2 years where the image in question is not an image which portrays a) an act which threatens a person’s life, or b) an act which results, or is likely to result, in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals.

Indecent images of children

There are several offences involving indecent images of children including:

1)     Criminal Justice Act 1988 s 160 (possession of indecent photographs) – max sentence 5 years

2)     Protection of Children Act 1978 s 1 (taking, distributing, publishing etc. indecent photographs) – max sentence 10 years

3)     Coroners and Justice Act 2009 s 62 (possession of prohibited images of children) – max sentence 3 years

Assessing the material

The material is assessed on a scale of 1-5 as to the severity of the images. This helps the judge decide how serious the offence is and what sentence should be imposed.

The scale runs from 1 to 5 and was established in R v Oliver 2002 EWCA Crim 127.

(1) images depicting erotic posing with no sexual activity;

(2) sexual activity between children, or solo masturbation by a child;

(3) non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children;

(4) penetrative sexual activity between children and adults;

(5) sadism or bestiality.

Other principles / points of note

Pseudo-images are generally considered to be less serious as real photographs, but they can be just as serious.

92 images at level 4 and 5 is to be considered a large amount (R v Wakeling 2010 EWCA Crim 2210)

Reference should of course be made to the guideline.

2 thoughts on “Indecent images / extreme pornography offences

  1. John Allman

    “images depicting erotic posing with no sexual activity”

    As a definition of the lowest degree of indecency this leaves much to be desired. How have the courts construed the words “erotic posing”?

    Using the ordinary meaning of the words, this definition seems to suggest the need to prove (as it were) mens rea on the part of the child photographed (“I stood like that on purpose because I knew the camera was pointing at me”). The definition seems to criminalise the harmless photography on the part of one another of fully clothed teenagers, if they try to look sexy by holding their bodies in a certain way when the camera shutter is snapped. But the definition exonerates the distribution of embarrassing photographs of children who were unaware that strangers were photographing them from embarrassing angles, whilst the children were holidaying with their nudist parents, or were of an age of innocence at which it is not expected that they will wear bathing costumes when paddling in the sea.

  2. Pingback: Neil Wilson’s sentence referred to Court of Appeal by Attorney-General | UK Criminal Law Blog

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