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Protection of Children Act 1978 (England and Wales)

It is an offence to take, permit to be taken, make, possess, show, distribute or advertise indecent images of children in the United Kingdom. The IWF assesses content according to levels set out by the Sentencing Guidelines Council, click here to see the levels set by the Sentencing Guidelines Council.

Please note; it is against the law to actively seek out such images and doing so in order to report to the IWF would not be a defence in court.

Section 1 of this act, as amended by section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, further defines indecent photographs of a child under 18 years of age to include:

(a) A tracing or other image, whether made by electronic or other means (of whatever nature) 

    (i) which is not itself a photograph or pseudo-photograph, but 

    (ii) which is derived from the whole or part of a photograph or pseudo-photograph (or a combination of either or both); and

(b) data stored on a computer disc or by other electronic means which is capable of conversion into an image within paragraph (a); and subsection (8) applies in relation to such an image as it applies in relation to a pseudo-photograph.

Section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978, as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, creates various offences of taking or distributing indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child under 18 years of age. It states:

1(1) It is an offence for a person -

To take, or permit to be taken, or to make any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child; or to distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs; or to possess such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, with a view to their being distributed or shown by himself or others; or 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 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. R v Bowden (J) 1999.

 

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