Distribution of Indecent Images  


Section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 makes it a criminal offence for a person to:

  • distribute or show indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs;
  • to have in his possession indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs, with a view to their being distributed or shown by himself or others.
  • 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

An individual is to be regarded as distributing an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph if he parts with possession of it to, or exposes or offers it for acquisition by, another person.

Defences to Distribution of Images

There are 2 statutory defences to an offence of distribution of indecent images namely:

(a) that an individual had a legitimate reason for distributing or showing the photographs or pseudo-photographs or (as the case may be) having them in his possession; or

(b) that an individual had not himself seen the photographs or pseudo-photographs and did not know, nor had any cause to suspect, them to be indecent.

The courts view cases of distribution of indecent images incredibly seriously and the sentencing guidelines state that as a starting point a 3-year custodial sentence is appropriate upon conviction.

As such if you are being investigated by the police or have been charged in relation to alleged distribution of indecent images it is vital that you receive expert advice without delay.

Particular problems may arise where an individual has downloaded file sharing or Peer-to-Peer (P2P) software as this may result in the inadvertent sharing (i.e. distributing) of images without a specific intention to do so.  Again if this situation applies to you please contact us immediately for initial free and confidential advice.

Our lines are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week