Sunday, 13 April 2014


Published online: 25 Mar 2014

Trends of indecent images of children and child sexual offences between 2005/2006 and 2012/2013 within the United Kingdom

Michelle Ann McManus & Louise Almond

"Little is known about the trends of indecent images of children (IIOC) offences, as UK criminal justice figures are unavailable within official crime data.

This study aims to explore the rates of conviction and the relationship between IIOC offences and child sexual abuse offences from 2005/2006 to 2012/2013.

The results indicated a continuing increase in offences of take, permit, distribute IIOC, rape of a child under 13, sexual activity of child under 16 and abuse of children through prostitution or pornography.

Six out of a possible 17 correlations were significant, with the strongest correlation found between take, make, distribute IIOC and rape of a female under 13.

Explanations for the findings are discussed and the utility of comprehensive prevalence figures for different stakeholders involved in addressing this crime issue."


The results of this paper found that IIOC offences have been increasing between 2005/2006 and 2012/2013 for the IIOC offence of take, make, distribute, but not for possession of IIOC. In addition, there was a continued increase for child sexual offences of rape of a child under 13, all child sexual activity and abuse of a child through prostitution or pornography, with other child sexual offences indicating a fluctuating pattern across the 8-year time period.

When exploring the relationship between IIOC offences and child sexual abuse, significant positive relationships were found for the offence of take, make and distribute IIOC with child sexual abuse offences of rape of a child under 13 (for both males and females), all child sexual activity, particularly sexual activity with a child under 16, and abuse of a child through prostitution or pornography. All other comparisons were non-significant.

Potential explanations for these finding could be attributed in two key ways: first, due to the increased awareness and reporting of IIOC and child sexual abuse offences, along with increased success of child protection and law enforcement agencies. The development of specialist collaborative agencies such as Child Exploitation Online Centre, Virtual Global Task Force and most recently the European Cybercrime Centre have no doubt contributed to public awareness and increased detection of these offenders (CEOP, 2012).

Alternatively, these findings could be due to an increase in people actually engaging in these particular offences. Although a causal relationship cannot be inferred, whilst IIOC offences of take, make and distribute IIOC offences have increased, so have certain child sexual abuse offences. Further work is required to understand this relationship and whether the increase in IIOC has resulted in more child sexual abuse offences, or vice versa. These results are informative to law enforcement agencies and key stakeholders involved in criminal justice and child protection."

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