Civic Government Scotland Act 1982

The UK's Civic Government Scotland Act 1982 is one of a suite of laws dealing with indecent photographs and children.

Applicable in Scotland, the Civic Government Scotland Act 1982 has been interpreted to cover computer-related activities & data stored on a computer disk. Any person who downloads images is making photographs under the Act...

The Civic Government Scotland Act 1982 makes it illegal in Scotland to take, make, or deal with indecent photographs of children (under 18 years old).

The word "make" covers computer-related activities and data stored on a computer disk. A person who downloads images is making photographs. Operation of a computer to download electronic signals could be distinguished from mere possession of indecent photographs (where the possessor has not himself been responsible for bringing the material into existence).


Supervision and enforcement


The regime is supervised by the Scottish Executive and enforced through the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service.


Offences under the Civic Government Scotland Act


Section 52 - Indecent Child Photographs

(1) Any person who- (a) takes, or permits to be taken or makes, any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child under 18 years of age; (b) distributes or shows such an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph; (c) has in his possession such an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph with a view to its being distributed or shown by himself or others; or (d) publishes or causes to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows such an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph, or intends to do so, shall be guilty of an offence under this section.

Section 52A - Possession of Photographs

(1) It is an offence for a person to have any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child under the age of 18 years in his possession. Section 52B - Exemptions for photographs of 16 and 17 year olds

In relation to offences under Section 52(1)(a), 52(1)(b), 52(1)(c) and Section 52A the accused is not guilty of an offence if

(a) either –

(i) the photograph was of the child aged 16 or over; or

(ii) the accused reasonably believed that to be so;

(b) at the time of the offence charged or at the time when the accused obtained the photograph, the accused and the child were –

(i) married to or civil partners of each other; or

(ii) partners in an established relationship; and

(c) either –

(i) the child consented to the photograph being taken or made; or

(ii) the accused reasonably believed that to be so.

In addition to the above conditions, the exemption would only apply for an offence under Section 52(1)(b) if -

(d) the showing or distributing of the photograph was only to the child.

The exemption would only apply for an offence under Section 52(1)(c) if conditions (a) through (c) were satisfied and - (d) the accused had the photograph in his possession with a view to its being distributed or shown only to the child.


Defence


There is no statutory defence to an offence under Section 52(1)(d) of the Act.

The exemptions apply in circumstances where the photograph is shown to the child alone or with the accused, but not if it is shown to any other person.

Note (b). In Longmuir v. H.M.A. 2000 S.C.C.R. 447, it was upheld on appeal, that downloading images from the Internet was within Section 52(1)(a) (above). The word "make" covered an activity whereby a computer was used to bring into existence data stored on a computer disk. A person who downloads images is making photographs. Operation of a computer to download electronic signals could be distinguished from mere possession of indecent photographs (where the possessor has not himself been responsible for bringing the material into existence).


Reference


Civic Government Scotland Act 1982

UK/1982/C/45