Protection of Children Act 1978 (and 1999)

Reference: UK/1978/C/37

The Protection of Children Act 1978 prevents the exploitation of children by making indecent photographs of them and penalises the distribution, showing and advertisement of such indecent photographs.

Offences

It is an offence under the Protection of Children Act 1978 for a person—

(a) to take, or permit to be taken , any indecent photograph of a child or

(b) to distribute or show such indecent photographs ; or

(c) to have in his possession such indecent photographs, with a view to their being distributed or shown by himself or others; or

(d) to publish or cause to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows such indecent photographs, or intends to do so.

Organisations must take appropriate steps to prevent such illegal activities by their workers using their digital systems and networks.

Section 1 of this act, as amended by section 69 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, further defines indecent photographs of a child under 18 years of age to include:

(a) A tracing or other image, whether made by electronic or other means (of whatever nature)

(i) which is not itself a photograph or pseudo-photograph, but

(ii) which is derived from the whole or part of a photograph or pseudo-photograph (or a combination of either or both); and

(b) data stored on a computer disc or by other electronic means which is capable of conversion into an image within paragraph (a); and subsection (8) applies in relation to such an image as it applies in relation to a pseudo-photograph.

Section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978, as amended by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994, creates various offences of taking or distributing indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of a child under 18 years of age. It states:

1(1) It is an offence for a person - To take, or permit to be taken, or to make any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child; or to distribute or show such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs; or to possess such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, with a view to their being distributed or shown by himself or others; or to publish or cause to be published any advertisement likely to be understood as conveying that the advertiser distributes or shows such indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, or intends to do so.'

Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 made the simple possession of indecent photographs of children an offence. This is an arrestable offence carrying a maximum sentence of 5 years imprisonment.

Making an indecent image of a child is a serious arrestable offence carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment.

Note: The term "make" includes downloading images from the Internet and storing or printing them out. R v Bowden (J) 1999.

Protection of Children Act 1999

The Protection of Children Act 1999 introduced the Protection of Children Act (PoCA) List in which the secretary of state has a duty to record the names of individuals who are considered unsuitable to work with children.

In fact, under the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 it is an offence to knowingly offer work to or to employ in a so-called "regulated" position (which includes child care positions) an individual who is disqualified from working with children, either by virtue of being included on one of the Secretary of State's Lists (the PoCA List or its equivalent in Scotland, or List 99) or a disqualification order from the court; and individuals who apply or offer to work, accept work or continue to work with children in such positions will be committing a criminal offence and can face prosecution if they are so disqualified.