Police and Justice Act 2006

Reference: UK/2006/C/48

The Police and Justice Act 2006 updates the law in order to address IT denial of service attacks. It also deals with fortfeiture of indecent photographs of children.

Overview of the Act

The Act

  • makes provision about police forces and police authorities and about police pensions;
  • makes provision about police powers and about the powers and duties of community support officers, weights and measures inspectors and others; makes provision about the supply to the police and others of information contained in registers of death;
  • makes further provision for combating crime and disorder; to make further provision about certain inspectorates;
  • makes provision about the forfeiture of indecent images of children;
  • amends the Extradition Act 2003; makes further provision about the use of live links in criminal proceedings.

The Police and Justice Act 2006 updates the Computer Misuse Act 1990 to deal with denial of service attacks.

Denial of service offence

Section 35 amends section 1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 (offence of unauthorised access to computer material). Section 1 of the 1990 Act deals with the unauthorised access to computer systems or data, commonly known as "hacking" or "cracking". Under that section, it is an offence to cause a computer to perform any function with intent to secure unauthorised access to any program or data held in any computer. It is necessary to prove that the access secured is unauthorised and that the suspect knew that this was the case.

Section 35(2) extends the section 1 offence so that it would be committed where the person's intention is to enable someone else to secure unauthorised access to a computer or to enable the person himself to secure unauthorised access to a computer at some later time. Section 35(3) replaces the penalty for this offence by substituting a new subsection (3) into section 1 of the 1990 Act.

The offence is made indictable, and the maximum sentence is increased from six months imprisonment to two years.

EU framework decision on attacks against information systems

The European Union Framework Decision on Attacks Against Information Systems, adopted by the European Union and Justice and Home Affairs Council of Ministers on 24 February 2005 requires the approximation of Member States' criminal law (offences, penalties and jurisdiction) on attacks against information systems; this amendment to the 1990 Act is designed to ensure compliance. The EU Framework Decision requires all Member States to give effect to its provisions in legislation by 24 February 2007. This is to ensure that there are adequate and more effective penalties available for the offence of unauthorised access to computer material, to reflect the seriousness of the criminal activities which can be involved in committing this offence.

Forfeiture of indecent photopgraphs

Section 39 of the Police and Justice Act 2006 and Schedule 11 to the Act amend the Protection of Children Act 1978 to provide a mechanism to allow police to forfeit indecent photographs of children held by the police following any lawful seizure. The provisions came into effect on 1 April 2008.

The changes mean that:

  • Indecent photographs of children once seized will not be returned in any recoverable form to someone who does not have a legitimate reason for their possession
  • The police will be able to forfeit indecent photographs of children which are held by the police following any lawful seizure
  • Both police and court time will be saved.


Offences are prosecuted by the Crown Prosecution Service