Public consultation on Obscene Publications Prosecution Guidance
The CPS conducted a public consultation on a proposed revision of its Legal Guidance on Obscene Publications. This is the outcome of that consultation.
The revised Legal Guidance can be found here: https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/obscene-publications
The purpose of the consultation was to provide interested persons with an opportunity to provide comments and to ensure the final version of the policies were informed by as wide a range of views as possible.
The summary of responses to the consultation can be accessed here: Summary of Responses to the Consultation on the CPS Obscene Publications Prosecution Guidance
This prosecution guidance seeks to assist prosecutors when considering allegations involving the Obscene Publications Act 1959.
The CPS conducted a public consultation on a proposed revision of its 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 has been 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.
The consultation was published on the CPS website and asked five questions:
Do consultees agree or disagree with the guidance that the showing or realistic depiction of sexual activity/pornography which constitutes acts or conduct contrary to the criminal law is (subject to the statutory defences) likely to be obscene?
Do consultees agree or disagree with the guidance that prosecutors must exercise real caution when dealing with the moral nature of acts not criminalised by law, and that the showing or realistic depiction of sexual activity/pornography which does not constitute acts or conduct contrary to the criminal law is unlikely to be obscene?
Do consultees agree or disagree with the guidance that prosecutors, when assessing obscenity, should consider:
- Whether the activity is consensual;
- b. Whether or not serious harm is caused;
- c. Whether or not it is inextricably linked with other criminality; and
- d. Whether the likely audience is not under 18 or otherwise vulnerable.
Do consultees agree or disagree with the guidance that the showing or realistic depiction of other acts or conduct which are contrary to the criminal law is also capable of being obscene?
Do consultees have any further suggestions for guidance to prosecutors in assessing “obscenity” when considering allegations falling under the Obscene Publications Act 1959?
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
Crown Prosecution Service
102 Petty France
London SW1H 9EA
Please include your name, organisation (if applicable), postal address, telephone number and email address in any response.