On 26 January 2009, Section 63 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 came into effect, generating it an offence to possess certain intense pornographic material. At the exact same time, Section 71 of the Act amended the Obscene Publications Act 1959, increasing the maximum penalty for offences below that Act to five years imprisonment.
The legislation sets out three criteria that an image must meet in order to fall under the Act. First, it need to be pornographic in nature. This signifies that a affordable individual would take into account its sole or main purpose to be sexual arousal. Nevertheless, the legislation does allow for context. For example, if the image was component of a wider narrative that was not pornographic, the image might be classified differently than it would be if considered in isolation. Second, the image have to also be grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise obscene. And third, the image need to also portray one of the following in an explicit and realistic way: An act that threatens a person’s life an act which causes or is probably to result in severe damage to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals a sex act involving a human corpse or intercourse or oral sex involving an animal. It is clearly stressed in the legislation that the image have to meet all three of these elements for possession to be regarded an offence.
For those caught with images that fulfil these criteria, there are 3 basic defences set out in the Act. The first defence allows for legitimate factors for possession of the material, such as by way of work as a policeman, film classifier or software builder who is creating a plan to block such material. The second defence allows for images which are possessed but have not been viewed, the argument being that the person could not have recognized the nature of the image. The third defence enables for situations where the image is received by a particular person without having them possessing requested it, and is deleted quickly soon after being viewed. Similarly, allowances are also created for men and women who accidentally stumble upon an image, the emphasis getting on intention.
For police investigating offences that fall beneath this new legislation, the help of pc forensics authorities is essential. In addition to recovering ‘deleted’ pictures and web browsing records in order to prove possession and intent, laptop forensics can also give proof in support of or against 1 of the defences described above. For instance, if a person claimed that an image had been received by e-mail but not viewed, personal computer forensic evaluation could reveal if this have been actually the case. Similarly, exactly where an image had been viewed, computer forensic evaluation could reveal how long the image remained on the person’s difficult drive just before it was deleted.
With the prevalence of higher speed broadband connections, social networking websites and peer to peer file sharing services, extreme pornographic photos can spread rapidly. Computer forensics professionals will no doubt be functioning increasingly closely with police forces and Crown Prosecution Services throughout England and Wales to aid police and prosecute against this new offence.