New data on prosecutions for images related offences

On 28th March, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice Sam Gymiah MP answered a Parliamentary Question about proceedings in the Magistrates Courts in England and Wales and convictions in all courts in England and Wales under s1, Protection of Children Act (child abuse images), s2, Obscene Publication Act, 1959 (er, obscene publications), s63 Criminal Justice and Immigration Act, 2008 (extreme pornography), and s62  Coroners and Justice Act, 2009 (prohibited images).

The police are now saying they are arresting around 3,000 people per year for child abuse images related offences  – record numbers – and this seems to be borne out by the 2015 figures in respect of proceedings brought in the Magistrates’ Courts (2374). The number of convictions obtained that year in all courts lags behind (1994) but that is to be expected. 2016’s numbers will start to show the bulge.

The table also underlines that the Obscene Publications Act is pretty much a dead letter. No new proceedings initiated in 2015 and only two convictions arising from proceedings started earlier.

The scale of activity in relation to extreme pornography seems low. Hard to judge exactly what this means but given the Age Verification Regulator has a power to act in relation to such material under the Digital Economy Bill we may get some further insights when they begin to report on how they are implementing what will then be an Act.

About John Carr

John Carr is a member of the Executive Board of the UK Council on Child Internet Safety, the British Government's principal advisory body for online safety and security for children and young people. In the summer of 2013 he was appointed as an adviser to Bangkok-based ECPAT International. Amongst other things John is or has been a Senior Expert Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, a member of the Executive Board of the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. More:
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