indecent photographs of children

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An image of a child involved in sexual activity or in a sexually provocative pose. A person who takes, makes, shows, distributes, advertises, or possesses an indecent ‘photograph or pseudo‐photograph’ of a child commits an offence. A ‘pseudo‐photograph’ is an image, created by computer graphics or any other means, that resembles a photograph and can include electronically stored data that can be converted into such images. A ‘child’ means a person under the age of 18 (raised from 16 by s 45 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003), although it will be possible to convict a person of making a pseudo‐photograph where the dominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child, notwithstanding that some of the physical characteristics shown are those of an adult. It is a defence if a photograph was of a child aged 16 or over, and at the time of the offence charged the accused and child were married, or were living together as partners in an enduring family relationship. For the purposes of the relevant legislation, the word ‘indecent’ is not defined and is a matter for the trier of fact. However, it is generally taken to mean any image of a child, apparently under 18 years of age, involved in sexual activity or posed to be sexually provocative.

Section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 provides that it is an offence for a person (a) to take, or permit to be taken, or to make, any indecent photograph or pseudo‐photograph of a child; or (b) to distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo‐photographs; or (c) to have in his possession such indecent photographs or pseudo‐photographs, with a view to their being distributed or shown by himself or others (a view only to show them to himself is insufficient: R v ET 163 JP 349 (CA) ); or (d) to publish or cause to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows such indecent photographs or pseudo‐photographs, or intends to do so. Section 1B of the Act contains an exemption from criminal proceedings where the indecent image is made pursuant to an authorization given by a relevant authority for the purposes of the prevention, detection, or investigation of crime or for the purposes of criminal proceedings in any part of the world. The authorization must be in writing and specific in its terms. Section160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes it an offence for a person to have any indecent photograph or pseudo‐photograph of a child in his possession. A defence is provided if the accused can show that that he had a legitimate reason for having the image in his possession; or that he had not himself seen the image and did not know, nor had any cause to suspect, it to be indecent; or that the image was sent to him without any prior request made by him or on his behalf and that he did not keep it for an unreasonable time.


Subjects: Law.

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