8.26 Information Communication Technology

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Abusive Images


For the purposes of child protection, abusive images of children can be divided into:

  • Those which are unlawful; and
  • Material, which although lawful, would give cause for concern and indicate that the person possessing it may pose a risk to children

Abusive images material may be found in the possession of those who use it for personal use or distribute to children as part of the grooming process.

Unlawful Material


Legally, an abusive image of a child is defined by reference to an 'indecent photograph'. This is any indecent photograph of a child under the age of 18 years old.


The term 'photograph' includes film, copies of photographs or films, negatives, video tape, data stored on computers that can be converted into a photograph and 'pseudo-photographs' (images made by computers graphics, or other means, which appear to be a photograph). This also covers electronic images used by video phones, through live streaming and video games, and through texting.


It is for a court to decide what is 'indecent' by application of recognised standards of propriety.


Possession of such material is an offence. Taking, showing or distributing such material amounts to a more serious offence.

Lawful Material


Lawful material falls outside the above definition, but may involve children in an indecent or sexual context. This could include pictures, cartoons, literature or sound recordings.

Use of the Internet


On 3 April 2017 section 67 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 was brought into force. It is now a criminal offence for anyone aged 18 or over to intentionally communicate with a child under 16, where the person acts for a sexual purpose and the communication is sexual or intended to elicit a sexual response. (not just if someone meets with a child). The offence applies to online and offline communication, including social media, e-mail, texts, letters, etc. This is designed to stop grooming before it starts.


The Internet has become a significant tool in the distribution of abusive images of children, enabling ready access to such material. It may be downloaded and printed off in picture form or stored electronically on the hard drive of a computer, CD/DVD, disc etc.


Some adults use it to establish contact with children with a view to grooming them for inappropriate or abusive relationships. This may be accomplished through 'chat rooms' or contact by e-mail and may constitute an offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003.


Children may be encouraged to access abusive images of children themselves through using apparently innocent words in an Internet search engine.


Parents may wish to seek advice from their Internet service provider about software programmes to limit access to sites that may be unsuitable for children.

Referrals and Child and Family Assessment


Parents should inform police if they are aware that a child has been the recipient of any suspicious contact through the internet or in receipt of abusive images, as described above.


Police must be informed of any information that a person may be in possession of abusive images of children or have placed / accessed abusive images of children on the internet.


Any information that a child may have been inappropriately contacted or approached, directly or via the internet, should also be passed to the police.


The police can provide advice generally on matters of abusive images of children to other agencies.


Whenever the police are informed of concerns that an individual may be involved in the creation, distribution or possession of abusive images of children, consideration must be given to the possibility that the individual might also be involved in the active abuse of children and her/his access to children should be established, including family and work settings.


Where there are concerns about a child being groomed, exposed to pornographic material or contacted by someone inappropriately, via the Internet or other ICT tools like a mobile phone, referrals should be made to the Police and to Children's Social Care, using the Making a Referral Procedure.


All referrals to Children's Social Care will be followed by a Child and Family Assessment and information should be shared between the Police and Children's Social Care in order to determine whether a Strategy Discussion should take place.


Where appropriate, the Allegations Against People who Work with, Care for or Volunteer with Children Procedure should be followed.

Strategy Discussion


The Police must inform Children's Social Care and a Strategy Discussion held whenever it is suspected that a parent or carer of children or someone with access to children in other context(s) e.g. employment:

  • Is in possession of child abusive images of children; and/or
  • Has taken, shown or distributed child abusive images of children; and/or
  • Has used the internet to make inappropriate approaches to children.

The Strategy Discussion must consider all access the individual has to children.


The Strategy Discussion must initiate a Section 47 Enquiry whenever it is confirmed that a parent or carer of child(ren), or someone with access to child(ren) has been involved in the activities listed above.


Where appropriate, the Allegations Against People who Work with, Care for or Volunteer with Children Procedure should be followed.

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This page is correct as printed on Thursday 27th of February 2020 06:28:25 PM please refer back to this website ( for updates.