Indecent images of children under the age of 18 are criminal.
Section 160 of The Criminal Justice Act of 1988 made the simple possession of indecent photographs of children an offence. This is an Arrestable Offence carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.
Making an indecent image of a child is a Serious Arrestable Offence carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.
Note: The term "make" includes downloading images from the internet and storing or printing them out (see R v Bowden (J) 1999).
You should have a clause within your IT Use Policy or a separate policy which relates to the relevant legislation. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 allows you to implement procedures specifically for dealing with these types of criminal images in the workplace, so there is no viable justification not to adopt an appropriate procedure.
Such a policy should clearly explain the implications should indecent images of children or other potentially criminal content be discovered on your organisation’s servers or on individual electronic devices and who within your organisation will deal with such matters. This should include an explanation as to why the policy is needed/significant and refer to the relevant legislation. There should be a clear reporting and disciplinary procedure which everyone is aware of and understands.
Include information and instructions for the Human Resources representative or department for dealing with staff who have been found to view, download, ‘make’ or possess indecent images of children at work and/or on equipment provided by the organisation. The Senior Management Team should be aware of any disciplinary procedures and action if ever taken.
Indecent images of this nature are a record of the actual abuse of real children.
Dealing with these images in the appropriate manner protects your organisation and your staff. It sends a message of zero tolerance of child abuse and exploitation and promotes your organisation’s Corporate Social Responsibility.