Caution Indecent Images
We are often asked by our clients as to whether they can avoid court if they accept a caution for possession or making indecent images.
The short answer is possibly, but a number of factors would normally need to be present including:
- Full admissions in police interview, where genuine remorse is shown and a thorough understanding as to why these cases are treated seriously.
- That you are able to demonstrate that you have taken positive steps to address your offending behaviour (including specialist counselling eg through StopSO, installing blocking software on your devices eg Covenant Eyes etc).
- There is no evidence of distribution ie uploading or sharing of images and the number of images recovered from your devices is not high. In those circumstances it is possible if you do and say the right things at the police station and /or if appropriate written representations are made on your behalf by your legal representatives a caution could be offered and you could then avoid court and a criminal conviction.
The decision by the police to administer a caution will ordinarily be made in conjunction with the CPS, although the police do, theoretically, retain a right to administer a caution.
Before offering a caution, the prosecutor (or police officer) must apply his or her mind to the public interest factors. Every case should be decided upon its own facts.
According to the CPS own website cases that may be appropriate for a caution (subject to the application of the Code for Crown Prosecutors) are cases where indecent images of children are not found on the suspect’s computer, but the suspect admits to having previously accessed such sites to obtain indecent images of children.
In an interview given by Simon Bailey, the police chief in charge of child protection, he admitted that the police and courts are absolutely overwhelmed by this work and do not have the resources to bring every offender to justice through the courts.
According to the Times, the number of reports of child abuse being made to the police has risen by 80% in three years. Police receive an average of 112 complaints a day and in 2015 there were 70,000 cases of child sexual abuse investigated. The police arrest 400 people each month on suspicion of viewing indecent images.
As such Bailey made the suggestion that to deal with this problem (that will only get worse as the police get ever more adept at tracing potential illegal Internet use) was to divert ‘low risk’ offenders who have viewed this material away from court by the use of conditional cautions.
Conditional cautions can have conditions attached to them to reduce risk e.g. to attend courses and to restrict internet use and so on the face of it this seemed like an eminently sensible idea.
As such if the amount of images is low and / or your personal circumstances are unusual it is vital that you are given the right advice at the police station and / or written representations are made to the CPS and / or police that an indecent images caution be issued due to the exceptional circumstances.
The below testimonial was written by a client who was given a caution rather than going to court after being advised by us at the police station. In this case we drafted a prepared statement to keep a tight control over the interview and put forward client’s mitigation and exceptional circumstances. We then made appropriate representations to the police which resulted in a caution for indecent images offences.
‘I want to express my sincere thanks to Joe and Angela from McMillans. Without their help I and my family would be in a much worse position than I am in now. Despite being full and frank during my investigation, the advice that Angela gave to me at my re-interview was undoubtedly the single thing that led to this great result. It is easy to become clouded and emotional in those situations and Angela was able to be right there by my side, standing for me, advising me and reminding me of the legalities of the situation. It felt great to have someone there, supporting just me and no one else, who was friendly, calm, understanding and genuinely cared about my well being and the outcome of the case. Thank you once again, so much, from the bottom of my heart, for everything that you and Angela have done for me during this (now past) terrible period of my life. I now have my life back and it’s onto the healing stage now. You’re all incredible’
Please feel free to call us 24 hours a day 7 days a week for free and confidential advice as to whether a caution for indecent images may be a possibility in your case.