Possession of indecent photographs of a child and prohibited images of children
Produced in partnership with Doughty Street Chambers

The following Corporate Crime practice note produced in partnership with Doughty Street Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Possession of indecent photographs of a child and prohibited images of children
  • Offence of possession of an indecent photograph of a child
  • Elements of the offence—the criminal act
  • Defences to the offence of possession of an indecent photograph of a child
  • Exception where there is consent within marriage or other enduring cohabiting partnership
  • Offence of possession of prohibited images of children
  • Defences
  • Sentences for possession of prohibited images of children
  • Offence of possession of a paedophile manual
  • Sentences for possession of a paedophile manual

Possession of indecent photographs of a child and prohibited images of children

Offence of possession of an indecent photograph of a child

It is an offence for a person to have any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child in their possession. The offence is an either way offence.

A child is a person who was under the age of 18 at the material time.

Photograph and pseudo-photograph have the same meaning under section 7 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (PCA 1978).

Elements of the offence—the criminal act

Simple possession of a relevant photograph or pseudo-photograph may constitute an offence.

The offence requires that the accused had possession or control of the images. If the images had been deleted from their computer then it would be a question of fact as to whether they had control of them and whether they had the expertise and equipment to retrieve the images.

An accused is not in possession of an image if their computer catched an indecent image of a child without their knowledge.

Possession however can be established if the accused is shown to have been aware of a relevant digital file or package of files which they have the capacity to access, even if they cannot be shown to have opened or scrutinised the material.

Defences to the offence of possession of an indecent photograph of a child

Once possession has been

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