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Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000

Indecent photographs of children: increase of maximum penalties: Section 41

18.Further provisions in this part of the Act strengthen the law which protects children through the prohibition on child pornography. Under the Protection of Children Act 1978, it is a criminal offence to take, permit to be taken, distribute, show, advertise or possess for distribution any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child under the age of 16. The maximum penalty for this offence is three years in prison and/or an unlimited fine. Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 introduced the offence of simple possession of an indecent photograph of a child. This is a summary only offence carrying a maximum penalty of six months imprisonment and/or a level 5 fine.

19.The government is concerned that the level of penalties available for those exploiting children through the production of child pornography should reflect the fact that its production involves actual abuse of children. The number of offences committed under the Protection of Children Act 1978 and Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 has increased significantly since the concept of pseudo-images (images produced by electronic means) was added to the legislation through an amendment in the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. Prosecutions under the PCA 1978 have increased from 40 (1994) to 116 (1998) whilst prosecutions for possession have increased from 53 (1994) to 167 (1998). So the government is ensuring that the current penalties reflect the seriousness of these offences. The measure increases the maximum sentence for taking, making, distributing and showing and possessing with a view to distribution, indecent photographs of children under sixteen. The penalty for simple possession of indecent images is also being increased.

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