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What are prohibited images of children?

Prohibited images of children are very different to indecent images of children.


Prohibited images of children are also very different to extreme pornography, for advice on extreme pornography see my separate blog.


Prohibited images are non-photographic images; this includes computer-generated images (CGI’s), cartoons, manga images and drawings.


Possession of a prohibited image of a child is an offence under section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009.


A prohibited image is an image which:


1. is pornographic,


2. is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character,


3. is an image which focuses solely or principally on a child's genitals or anal region, or


4. portrays any of the acts mentioned below.


Those acts are:

  • the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;

  • an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;

  • an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person's body or with anything else;

  • an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person's body or with anything else;

  • the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);

  • the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.


An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.


Even if an image is pornographic, it will not be a prohibited image unless it also satisfies all the other aspects of the offence.


There are three general defences:

  • They had a legitimate reason for having the image, or

  • That they had not seen it and did not know or suspect it to be illegal, or

  • That it had been sent to them unsolicited and they did not keep it for an unreasonable time.


If you receive a prohibited image without asking for it and without knowing or believing it would be a prohibited image, it is important that the image is deleted as soon as possible. Once you know you have received the image there is no defence if you keep it for an unreasonable time.


The maximum penalty for possession of prohibited images of children is three years in prison.


A person convicted of offences involving prohibited images of children will be put on the sex offenders register. See my section on the sex offenders register on my website for further details.


Some firms will scare you with risks of prison sentences, I do not think that is fair, it also distracts you from focusing on dealing with your case in a proactive and productive fashion. Despite the maximum sentences I would advise that for straightforward possession of prohibited images of children an immediate prison sentence is highly unlikely, the most likely sentence would be a community order or suspended sentence. For cases involving very few images and without aggravating features, a Police Caution or a fine may be achievable.


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


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