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If a 25 y/o adult in the UK writes and distributes sexually explicit material with/to a 16 y/o can they be prosecuted for Child Sexual Abuse? The adult has been grooming the minor online, confessed their love for the minor, and intends to meet the minor to start a relationship. I fear for this child's safety but I don't know if this is illegal activity or consensual under UK law.

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    The nature of the activity is not very clear from the question.
    – ohwilleke
    Aug 20 '20 at 4:30
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    Can you be more specific? "Pornography" is generally material intended for wider distribution. This sounds more like sexually explicit chat between two people. Is that right? Is this purely textual, or are sexually explicit pictures being exchanged? In particular, does the 25 y/o have any indecent pictures of the 16 y/o? "Indecent" has the dictionary meaning of "not conforming to generally accepted standards of behaviour", so even pictures in underwear may be considered as such. Aug 20 '20 at 8:40
  • Depending on the circumstances you might also want to ask about the broader situation over on Parenting.SE. Aug 20 '20 at 8:45
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Four potential offences come to mind on the provision of further information:

Whether an offence has actually been committed will depend on the exact nature of the drawings. If they are traced or some sort of derivative of a photograph (a sketch of a photograph, for example) then they will be captured by Section 7 of the PCA 1978:

  1. References to a photograph include—

...

(b) data stored on a computer disc or by other electronic means which is capable of conversion into a photograph.]

(4A) References to a photograph also include—

(a) a tracing or other image, whether made by electronic or other means (of whatever nature)—

(i) which is not itself a photograph or pseudo-photograph, but

(ii) which is derived from the whole or part of a photograph or pseudo-photograph (or a combination of either or both); and

(b) data stored on a computer disc or by other electronic means which is capable of conversion into an image within paragraph (a);

However, if they are a cartoon, manga, non-traced physical drawing, or computer-generated image, they will be captured by Section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2008 which prohibits the possession of a prohibited image of a child.

For this offence, the following criteria apply:

  1. The image must be pornographic - "An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal." (s3 of the Act)

  2. It must be an image that focuses solely or principally on a child's genitals or anal region, or shows any of the following acts:

  • the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;
  • an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;
  • an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person's body or with anything else;
  • an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person's body or with anything else;
  • the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);
  • the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.
  1. The image must be grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.

In conclusion, it is most likely that the adult would be charged with possession of a prohibited image of a child contrary to Section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009, and you should report that adult to the police as soon as possible.

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  • What about Protection of Children Act 1978, will it not apply? The age of a child has been raised to 18 there.
    – Greendrake
    Aug 20 '20 at 10:31
  • The Protection of Children Act 1978 only concerns itself with indecent photographs of children under the age of 18. The implication in the question is that the material is "written" rather than an image. Of course, if a photograph (or pseudo-photograph, e.g. a drawing) has been created, then the relevant offence in the Act may apply.
    – Matthew
    Aug 20 '20 at 10:42
  • There were drawings made in addition to the writing. These drawings were made by both parties and depict sexual acts.
    – Siobhan
    Aug 20 '20 at 20:48
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    @Siobhan I have updated my answer. You should report that adult to the police immediately.
    – Matthew
    Aug 21 '20 at 1:22
  • the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child. – Wait... so a guy air-humping an imaginary animal, if in the presence of a child, is illegal?
    – forest
    Feb 14 at 8:33

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