Distribution of extreme pornographic images

26 July 2017

Not reviewed after the date of publication

Question:

Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 creates the offence of possession of extreme pornographic images. Is there an offence to cover distribution of such material?

Answer:

There does not appear to be a specific offence in relation to distribution of extreme pornography within the Act. However, as the possession offence under section 63 is an either way offence, distribution could be seen as an aggravating factor which makes it an offence worthy of pursuing by indictment. For such an offence the penalty could be 2 or 3 years on indictment, depending upon the content of the pornography, in accordance with section 67 of the Act.

Clearly if the images contain children then section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978, which creates various offences regarding the taking, making or distributing indecent photographs (or pseudo-photographs) of a child under 18 (either way max penalty 10 years), would be more appropriate.

Alternatively, the offence under section 2 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 refers to 'publishing' obscene material which is held to include 'distribution', which has a max penalty of 5 years.

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