According to the NCPCC, last year, there were over twenty thousand recorded incidents involving indecent images of children across various online and social media platforms. That’s close to one indecent image being recorded every 20 minutes. The majority of these instances related to making, taking, or distributing these images, while only a quarter of them involved the possession of such photographs.

These figures are significantly high, and have resulted in many investigations, prosecutions, and arrests in the last ten years.

The law and types of indecent images

UK law regarding the possession, distribution, and downloading of indecent images can be complex.

The complexity of the law also relates to the factual circumstances surrounding the suspicion, such as incidents involving shared computers, shared living spaces, and accidental viewings. However, the consequences of a possible conviction for indecent images can be devastating; they have long-term effects that follow the person for life.

The three types of offences linked to indecent images include possession, production, and distribution of said images.

The seriousness of the offence depends on the nature of the images. There are three major categories under which the court passes a sentence.

  • Category A is the gravest and involves images of children engaging in sexual activities or images relating to sadism and bestiality.
  • Category B relates to images of non-penetrative sexual activity.
  • Category C are all indecent and immoral images that do not fall under either category A or B

Sentence according to the nature of the incident

The court must consider the nature of the offence at the time of the sentencing. According to the types of offence, there are three categories of sentencing.

In the case of production, the sentencing is most serious, as it is the source of the image and possibly involves harm to a child. This can also include copying offensive images.

Distribution falls in the middle spectrum when it comes to sentencing. It involves sending and spreading images through various communication methods, such as e-mail or text.

Sentencing for possession is fraught with complications in case the indecent images are on a shared drive or device. In some cases, it can be construed as a distribution, which could involve a bigger sentence.

The punishment for indecent images can be anywhere from three years imprisonment to nine years in custody, depending on the nature of the offence.

Defending yourself

If anyone finds themselves being investigated for an offence involving indecent images, they must seek expert legal counsel at the earliest opportunity. They must also involve IT experts, especially if they are contesting the matter.

Forever advancing technology has made it easier for anyone to access indecent images via the internet. While some people do access it deliberately, it can also happen accidentally.

The best chance for a defendant is to get expert legal advice as soon as possible for a chance to create a more robust defence to plead their case.

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