New FOI data on Policing Extreme Pornography

How is the law on extreme pornography being policed? Who is being charged with extreme pornography offences? What is the most common type of pornography being prosecuted?

To find out the answers to these and many similar questions, my colleague Dr Hannah Bows and I made new Freedom of Information (FOI) requests to all police forces across England and Wales.

We produced a preliminary analysis of the data for the inquiry into pornography being held by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Sexual Violence. We will publish the full results later in the year.

Our evidence submission is available here: APPG BowsMcGlynn FOI Evidence_

These are some of our preliminary findings:

What do we know of those who are accused of possessing extreme pornography?

  • Gender of defendants: The vast majority (98%) of those charged with extreme pornography offences are men.
  • Age of defendants: Men across all ages are being charged with extreme pornography offences. This is not an offence being committed only by young people sharing ‘gross’ images, engaging in ‘sexual experimentation’ or having greater internet use.
  • Ethnicity: Those accused are predominantly White (71%).

What types of extreme pornography are recorded and charged?

  • Bestiality Images: Vast majority of charges were for possession of bestiality images (85%).
  • Rape Pornography: Only 3 charges (1%) were made in relation to possession of rape pornography
  • Attrition: Of all recorded incidents of extreme pornography (n=500) 62% led to a charge.
  • Additional offences charged: where information was available (n=116), in just over half of cases (59%) an additional offence was recorded at the same time as the extreme pornography offence, with the majority of those additional charges (62%) being for sexual offences.
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