Analysis by severity


We assess child sexual abuse material according to the levels detailed in the Sentencing Council's Sexual Offences Definitive Guideline. The Indecent Photographs of Children section (Page 34) outlines the different categories of child sexual abuse material.

  • Category A is defined as: Images involving penetrative sexual activity; images involving sexual activity with an animal, or sadism.
  • Category B: Images involving non-penetrative sexual activity.
  • Category C: Other indecent images not falling within categories A or B.

There was a 22% increase in Category A child sexual abuse material we identified in 2023 from 51,369 in 2022, to 62,652 in 2023. The trend for the past three years has seen increases in Category A material: between 2021 and 2023, we have seen a 38% increase in Category A imagery, which is the most severe level on the scale.

Severity of abuse over the past three years

This chart shows the severity of child sexual abuse according to UK Sentencing Council Categories A, B and C.