• Solicitor

A guide to the definition of making, possession, distribution and production of indecent images

The law categorises indecent images of children in four ways:

1. Possession of indecent images is the physical or digital possession of an indecent image.

2. Making of indecent images is dealt with very similarly to possession and involves the viewing of an image which in turn results in the image being downloaded to the device on which it is viewed.

Making is often misunderstood, it doesn’t actually mean a person made or took the original image. The making of indecent images can occur in many ways, often when someone simply downloads them from the internet.

The act of downloading “makes” the indecent image on the device upon which the image has been downloaded. However, the “making” of the image can also happen automatically, sometimes when a device visits a web page on which indecent images of children are visible.

3. The distribution of indecent images is often where it involves the sending or sharing of a digital file, for example by social media, email, in a chat room or file sharing programme.

It must be established that the person intentionally distributed the image and that he did so intending to send an indecent image. For the latter element, the prosecution must show that the sender had knowledge that the image was indecent.

4. The production of indecent images typically involves the actual taking of a photograph or production of a video or film, whereby the accused person may be filming or using the camera to produce indecent material.

Police investigations into this type of case can take place over many months. Large amounts of materials and many devices are often seized including computers, tablets, memory cards, USB sticks, external hard drives and mobile phones. They are subject to forensic analysis with their contents downloaded and assessed.

Due to the stigma involved in such sensitive cases an accused individual can have their reputation irreparably damaged, even before a fair trial takes place.

Being involved in an investigation relating to indecent image charges can be a very stressful time. The long and uncertain process can be intrusive and emotionally traumatising, affecting an person's work life, family life and beyond.

If you, a family member or a friend are accused of an indecent images offence, or are just concerned about what could happen if accused, seeking specialist legal advice at an early stage can dramatically improve the outcome of a case.

Although it can be tempting to do nothing and hope the whole situation goes away, acting positively at an early stage can avoid jeopardising a legitimate defence, there are also occasions where co-operating effectively with a police investigation can lessen the potential consequences and even avoid a Court appearance or conviction.

Please see my other blogs that how indecent images are categorised and sentenced.

If you need specific advice on your case, please contact me or book an appointment.

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