Public consultation on Obscene Publications Prosecution Guidance

|Consultation
This consultation is now open
Opening date:
Closing date:

The CPS has launched a public consultation on a proposed revision of its current Legal Guidance on Obscene Publications.

This guidance assists prosecutors making charging decisions in cases which fall under the Obscene Publications Act 1959.

The Obscene Publications Act makes it a crime to publish material which might ‘deprave or corrupt’ those who are likely to see, read, or hear it.

Publishing can include distributing, selling, lending or giving the material in question, or offering to sell or lend it.

Prosecutors might also consider other offences when dealing with “obscene publications”, for example outraging public decency, possession of an extreme pornographic image, disclosing private sexual images without consent, and offences against the Malicious Communications Act 1988 and Electronic Communications Act 2003.

The guidance is being revised to provide more clarity about what an “obscene publication” might be, and places an increased focus on those who may view this material which may determine whether a criminal offence has been committed.

Consultation content

The CPS is seeking views on the revised guidance from interested parties. The draft revised guidance and consultation questions can be viewed on this website. It can also be downloaded as an Adobe PDF document (approx 152kb).

The consultation will run for 12 weeks from 25 July. The current legal guidance is available in the Prosecution Guidance section of the CPS website.

When complete, it is anticipated that the revised legal guidance will come into effect in late 2018.

How to Respond

It would be helpful if you could give your feedback using our online form (see below) for ease of analysis.

You can also download a response form, complete it, and return it to DLA.Team@cps.gov.uk by midnight on 17 October 2018. Please use the same form if you wish to submit a hard copy of your response to the postal address below.

If you are replying by email, we would be grateful if you would not attach any other documents to the consultation response form document. There are limits on the size of documents that we are able to accept and any completed response form document which has an attachment runs the risk of not being delivered. If you wish to send an attachment to us, or raise any queries that you have on the consultation, these can be submitted separately to the same e-mail address shown above.  

We would prefer electronic submissions if possible but, if you would rather submit your feedback in hard copy it can be returned, by the same date, to:

Obscene Publications Consultation
DLA Team
Crown Prosecution Service
9th Floor North
Rose Court
Southwark Bridge Road
LONDON SE1 9HS

Please note that we will be moving offices in mid-August. We will update this address at that time.

Please include your name, organisation (if applicable), postal address, telephone number and email address in any response.

Documents in Welsh/Dogfennau yn Gymraeg

Documents in Welsh can be provided on demand. Please email DLA.Team@cps.gov.uk with your request.

Gellir darparu dogfennau yn Gymraeg ar gais. E-bostiwch DLA.Team@cps.gov.uk gyda'ch cais.

Responses: Confidentiality and disclaimer

The information you send us may be passed to colleagues within the CPS, the Government or related agencies. Furthermore, information provided in response to this consultation, including personal information, may be published or disclosed in accordance with the access to information legislation including the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA).

If you want the information that you provide to be treated as confidential, please be aware that, under FOIA, there is a statutory Code of Practice with which public authorities must comply and which deals, amongst other things, with obligations of confidence. In view of this it would be helpful if you could briefly explain to us why you regard the information you have provided as confidential.

If we receive a request for disclosure of the information we will take full account of your explanation, but we cannot give an assurance that confidentiality can be maintained in all circumstances. An automatic confidentiality disclaimer generated by your IT system will not be regarded as binding on the CPS.

Please ensure your response is marked clearly if you wish your response and name to be kept confidential. Confidential responses will be included in any statistical summary of numbers of comments received and views expressed. The CPS will process your personal data in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 - in the majority of circumstances this will mean that your personal data will not be disclosed to third parties.

CPS Consultations

We want to hear your views about our prosecution policy. You can help us to be better informed, fairer and more representative by participating in our consultations. We welcome your feedback.

Alternative formats

If you require a copy of the consultation papers in any other format, for example, large print or Braille, please contact the e-mail or postal addresses above.

How to respond to consultations

  • Visit the consultation page
  • Read the consultation documents
  • Respond to the consultation using the online form, by email or by post
  • Make sure you submit your response by the closing date

Government Consultation Principles

The Consultation Principles 2016 are available from the Cabinet Office website (opens in new window).

View all consultations