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 2006

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13th December

Home Office Written Questions

House of Commons

  Pornographic Websites

Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Obscene Publications Act 1959 applies to internet websites offering pornographic material, with particular reference to child protection on the internet; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Coaker: The Obscene Publications Act 1959 applies to all published material whether on the Internet or offline. Material is published if it is circulated, distributed, sold, given, lent or offered to another person. It will be deemed to be obscene if the court finds that its effect is such as to tend to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely to read, see or hear it.

The Criminal Law Subgroup of the Home Secretary’s Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet has considered the implications of a judgement in the Court of Appeal (R v. Perrin [2002] EWCA crim 747) which indicated that where children are likely to access material of a degree of sexual explicitness equivalent to what is available to those aged 18 and above in a licensed sex shop, that material may be considered to be obscene and subject to prosecution. This applies to material which is not behind a suitable payment barrier or other accepted means of age verification, for example, material on the front page of pornography websites and non-commercial, user-generated material which is likely to be accessed by children and meets the threshold.

 

23rd November

Home Office Written Questions

House of Commons

  Cartoon Child Pornography

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent work the Task Force for Child Protection on the internet has undertaken on cartoon child pornography; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Coaker: The Criminal Law Subgroup of the Home Secretary's Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet have been considering a number of issues arising from the availability of cartoons, drawings and computer generated fantasy material depicting the sexual abuse of children.

The subgroup have considered the extent to which the material is already covered by the criminal law. They have examined information from the police and others on the accessibility of this material, particularly on the internet, and its use by offenders. The subgroup have also considered the approach taken by other countries to regulating this material.

Mrs. James: What assessment he has made of the merits of amending the Protection of Children Act 1978 to include cartoon child pornography?

Mr. Coaker: The Criminal Law Subgroup of the Home Secretary's Task Force on Child Protection on the Internet have considered the possibility of amending the Protection of Children Act 1978 as one of the options for dealing with cartoon child pornography. This legislation made it an offence to take, make, distribute or show indecent photographs of real children. Its purpose was to protect children from abuse. It was subsequently extended to cover simple possession of indecent photographs, to reflect concern that possession fuels demand and perpetuates abuse, and to “pseudo photographs” to cover manipulation of images where, for example, an adult's head can be joined to a child's body. (The resulting image must appear to be a photograph of a child.)

The age of the child was raised from under 16 to under 18 in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

Offences under the 1978 Act (as amended) attract substantial penalties to reflect the fact that real children are involved in the making of the material: a maximum of 10 years' imprisonment for taking, making and supply and a maximum of five years' imprisonment for possession.

Although cartoons depicting child abuse are deeply offensive, they do not in themselves constitute abuse of a child. The 1978 Act is well understood by those who work with it and enforce it and there are substantial arguments against extending its scope to cover cartoons of child pornography. We are, however, giving close consideration to the issues and options in this difficult area, including how it has been tackled abroad.

 

18th October

Prime Ministers Questions

House of Commons

  Bully for Prime Minister's Questions

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): Last Thursday, the British Board of Film Classification gave a 15 certificate to a video game formerly called “Bully”. The game contains scenes of violence, including scenes of players terrorising teachers and students, teachers being head-butted and the aggressive use of baseball bats. Currys has banned it. Given the link between video games and a propensity to encourage violence that some research has demonstrated, will the Prime Minister convene a meeting of stakeholders—including representatives of the industry and parents’ groups—to discuss the issue? Does he accept that this is not about adult censorship, but about protecting our children?

The Prime Minister: First, let me praise my right hon. Friend for his work in raising awareness of the issue. I have not seen the game myself, but I know that both my hon. Friend the Minister responsible for creative industries, and my hon. Friend who is responsible for the video industry, would be happy to meet my right hon. Friend to discuss the issue. It is obviously important, and I know that there is a lot of concern about it.

I think it can be said that the video games industry, or at least a substantial section of it, has made significant advances over the past few years, but as my right hon. Friend says, it is important for that progress to be maintained.

 

20th January

House of Commons Committee

Possession of Bestiality & Animal Cruelty Video Recordings (Animal Welfare Bill)

Ben Bradshaw:

There is no existing offence of possessing, as opposed to distributing, recordings of animal cruelty, animal fights and bestiality. On reflection, after the draft of the Bill was published, the Government concluded that the case for criminalising the mere possession of such material had not been made. Under current legislation, we have criminalised the possession of images only in exceptional circumstances. It may be helpful to remind hon. Members of the current area where the mere possession of images is an offence: indecent photographs of children. That is the only area. The Home Office is currently consulting on a proposed new offence of the possession of extreme pornographic material. That will concern the possession of material covering bestiality, necrophilia, serious sexual violence and serious violence in a sexual context.

I do not particularly want to go into any of those topics in more detail at this time in the morning, but the points that I wish to illustrate are, first, that possessing scenes of bestiality is already being considered elsewhere and it would not be appropriate to pre-empt that consultation and, secondly, that the Home Office is consulting now on proposals to criminalise the possession of abhorrent material involving the abuse of humans, which it has been illegal to distribute for many years. The wide range of responses that it has received indicates that there will be huge difficulties in criminalising the possession of such images. Quite a number of respondees considered the proposals to be a major increase in powers and unnecessary when such imagery is legal in many other parts of the world. If we are still in the process of considering proposals to criminalise the possession of what we believe to be abhorrent scenes of necrophilia and brutal, violent rape, how do we justify criminalising possession of scenes of animal cruelty and fighting?

Barbara Keeley (Worsley) (Lab): The additional point that some Members have referred to and that I want to draw out is that we have to admit that there is a deplorable trend in society to record certain events on mobile phones or hand-held videos—it could be by chance, but is not. Members have referred to happy slapping. The problem with what the Minister has said about the Home Office consultation is that we know that such behaviour is happening now. There is a deplorable trend of provoking something cruel—involving humans in the case of happy slapping, or animals—so that it can be recorded. That is a recent trend and it is not covered by what he is talking about. The Committee feels that it has a chance to stop that deplorable trend. In some ways, animal cruelty is extended by technological capabilities—

Ben Bradshaw: I understand my hon. Friend's point completely. We all deplore the trend, but simply because right-minded people deplore a trend does not necessarily mean that it is always easy or even possible to legislate against it. The provocation that she referred to would be covered in the Bill. I am trying to explain why—I will elaborate on this—it is difficult to criminalise the mere possession of certain images in the way that hon. Members suggest.

I draw hon. Members' attention to the television without frontiers directive, which means that we cannot prevent television broadcasts into the United Kingdom from abroad without meeting a very high test. In simple terms, the test is whether the images could cause physical or mental harm to children. Although one cannot envisage any scene of bestiality that does not meet that threshold—and the distribution and publication of such scenes is already banned by the Obscene Publications Act—I do not think that we can be so categorical about scenes of animal fighting or animal cruelty, the nature and context of which could vary widely. Some would meet that test, but, to take a recent example, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport took the view that she could not prevent scenes of bull fighting in Spain from being broadcast into the United Kingdom. I am sure that hon. Members would agree that it would be odd if one could sit at home and quite legally watch scenes of bull fighting on a satellite channel or the internet, but it would be an offence if one videoed it to watch later.

The amendment might also catch the UK representative of the office of the satellite or internet provider and would risk being incompatible with EU law.

Greg Mulholland: There is a terrible flaw in that argument. In the internet era we all know that there are images of a quite remarkably disgusting nature—things that we could not imagine and would not want to—which could be broadcast into each and every one of our homes if we went to look for them. Just because things are available in British homes does not mean that we in British law should not say that they are wrong and try to prevent them in every possible way, even if we cannot always prevent them in every situation.

Ben Bradshaw: The hon. Gentleman is not drawing a distinction between what we might deplore and what we might feel able, in practical terms, to legislate against. The amendment would also make it an offence to possess a holiday video of an animal fight watched perfectly legally abroad. Bull fighting is the obvious example. There are strongly held views on whether bull fighting is acceptable and the Bill makes it plain that it will remain illegal in the UK, but that does not mean that it is appropriate to make it an offence to possess a video of such an event, which has been watched legally and openly in another country.

 

27th June

House of Commons

Sexually Explicit Material (Regulation of Sale and Display)

Claire Curtis-Thomas (Crosby) (Lab): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to establish an Office for the Regulation of the Sale and Display of Sexually Explicit Material; to require the Office to regulate the sale and display of such material; and for connected purposes.

My Bill seeks to allow the appropriate regulation of sexually explicit material such as that in lads mags and the Daily Sport and the Sunday Sport.

Before I begin, I must tell the House that much of the material from those publications that I would have liked to have quoted has, after long consultation with your office, Mr. Speaker, been deemed to be too obscene to be spoken in this Chamber. I ask Members present to reflect on the fact that while they may never have seen such material and are today unable to hear it read out loud in detail, those publications are available for purchase by children in nearly every single newsagent in Britain.

My first example of such material is provided by the Daily Sport and the Sunday Sport. Inside such so-called newspapers, the overwhelming majority of the content comprises adverts for hard-core pornography, sex chat lines, national directories of sex shops and every other form of adult entertainment. There are quite literally thousands of adverts per issue—often page after page. One page alone may have up to 700 one-line ads for masseurs/escorts, accompanied by graphic images.

Another shocking example of such disgraceful content is provided by the issue that covered Jane Longhurst's murder by a necrophile addict. In the Daily Sport the sex life of her murderer was described as being a series of “adventurous romps”. Jane's murder was not presented as a tragedy, but instead was degraded to what can only be described as a deviant narrative designed to appeal to the most depraved members of our society.

The problem is compounded by banners across the top of the Daily Sport that advertise hard-core sex websites. Those, hon. Members, are simply a portal to hard-core porn sites, which advertise the Daily Sport, while hard-core porn mail-out catalogues in turn advertise the same paper.

In a similar manner, lad mags—or so-called men's lifestyle magazines—provide another clear example of the total failure of current media regulation. Publications such as FHM, Zoo, Nuts and the like are sexually explicit and highly sexually denigrating. The question hon. Members must ask themselves is why such publications are not on the top shelves, given that their content is barely indistinguishable from recognisable top-shelf pornography.

In those publications, women are shown only as cheap and contemptible sexual commodities, fit only to be subjected to a range of exploitative violent and degrading activities. An example of the content is a recent issue of Zoo magazine, which features images of girl-on-girl action and jokes about women enjoying being urinated on and having sex with animals. Its “tit op comp” invites men to win breast enlargements for their girlfriends, with the declared purpose of transforming them: into a happier, more generous, intelligent and interesting version of the slightly second rate person they are today.

This is a magazine being sold or provided to young boys under the age of 16. What impressions are they gaining about the importance of a woman in our society and what messages are we sending to young girls? It is that we condone their use and misuse in any way that makes the editors, producers and distributors of this so-called literature a profit. Is this type of sexual activity and literature so normal that it can be displayed next to The Beano and The Dandy? Hon. Members, something must be done.

I believe that it is strongly in our interests as a society to restrict the availability of this material. Whilst those publications are clearly sexually explicit, exploitative and denigrating, there is currently no meaningful regulation in place to ensure that they are sold as age-restricted and on the top shelf. Throughout its history, the British media has achieved a balance between decency and freedom of expression. For centuries, our country has led the world in its ability to combine a freedom of choice for society while at the same time protecting its most vulnerable members. The availability and impact of publications such as Zoo, Nuts and the Daily Sport are undermining that reputation.

Regulation has worked well for other industries. The British Board of Film Classification has allowed the film industry to go from strength to strength, whilst at the same time protecting the development of our nation's youth. A 9 pm television watershed and internet controls have given parents a choice over what their children watch or where they surf. Considering the success of such measures, why is there no regulatory mechanism in the print media that affords women and children a similar protection? If it is right to have measures in place to protect children within the film, TV and internet industries, why are they not in place for the explicit sex magazines and so-called newspapers that feature so freely on our nation's shelves? If that were the case, all the publications that I am concerned about would be rated 18-plus and would have to carry explicit warnings about their content.

Currently, the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and the Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981 are entirely inadequate for the regulation of today's media. Those Acts are applied by the courts only to the most extreme forms of pornography and at present the law is simply not equipped to deal with the sort of material found in lad mags or the Daily Sport. Tellingly, there are no legal definitions of pornography in existence—not even of the word “indecent”.

Although the publishers of newspapers and magazines are currently regulated by the Press Complaints Commission, that body has no codes regarding sexual explicitness and it has refused to consider introducing guidelines even over the explicitness of the covers of newspapers and magazines. In a similar manner, while the sale of newspapers and magazines are monitored by a retail regulator, the National Federation of Retail Newsagents, it issues purely voluntary codes to retailers and has no powers to impose fines. Retailers are under no obligation whatsoever to abide by its recommendations.

I have previously contacted WH Smith to discuss this issue, but the chairman refused to speak to me, presumably because he is very happy with the profits he is earning as a result of his role in promoting and distributing that literature. WH Smith is the largest distributor for such publications, and, despite hearing my arguments, it continues to make those publications available to children.

Hon. Members, today we have an opportunity to force an industry to uphold those principles that we value in everyday life. The Bill proposes the establishment of a new, independent, non-partisan regulator for the sale and display of sexually explicit material, with binding codes and transparent, well publicised guidelines—a regulator that is socially responsible and not motivated by profit and could take the onus off commercially motivated retailers and publishers to act as regulators.

I want our children and the women who have been the subject of sexual abuse and misuse to be properly protected from what is now freely displayed to them, and normalises and glamorises degrading and often violent activity. I believe that my measure will do something towards that surely admirable end. I commend it to the House.

Angela Watkinson (Upminster) (Con): The Bill is clearly well intentioned in trying to protect minors from exposure to thoroughly unpleasant publications. There cannot be an hon. Member in the House who disagrees about the fact that minors deserve that protection and that their parents would expect the law to achieve that aim.

I wish to oppose the Bill, however, because I believe that it is wrong in two respects: first, in its proposal that a Government office should be set up to regulate the sale and display of such material; secondly, in its failure to take proper account of the co-operation of the women portrayed.

I became interested in the subject some months ago when I received a copy of the Daily Sport in my postbag. I was surprised at how many large advertisements it contained for hard-core pornography, together with pictures of women wearing nothing more than a lascivious expression. I was even more surprised to find that that was eligible material for display alongside newspapers, where such publications are readily accessible to children.

A range of lifestyle magazines is aimed at the teenage girl market, but there are no comparable publications, as far as I am aware, for teenage boys. Perhaps that gap in the market could be filled by a responsible publisher. If a lifestyle magazine could be produced that was attractive to teenage boys and acceptable to their parents, it might help reduce any curiosity that they might have in the grossly unsuitable publications that the Bill covers.

The Bill includes no reference to the complicity of the women pictured in the publications. They are not victims. Women who take part willingly in that sort of photographic or film session, and are paid for their services, must surely take responsibility for their involvement. Portraying women as objects of disrespect at best and deserving of degradation, violence and utter contempt at worst does a great disservice to other women who may suffer at the hands of husbands or partners who have been influenced by what they have seen in those publications.

A clear definition of what constitutes pornography is needed to encompass that type of publication and those that the hon. Lady described, which I have not seen, in the Obscene Publications Act 1959, so that they are consigned to the top shelf, away from the reach and eyes of children. We do not need yet another Government office—we have far too many already.

The Bill is trying to do the right thing in the wrong way and I therefore oppose it.

Question put, pursuant to Standing Order No. 23 (Motions for leave to bring in Bills and nomination of Select Committees at commencement of public business), and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Claire Curtis-Thomas, Annette Brooke, Dr. Evan Harris, Lynda Waltho, Andrew Selous, Helen Goodman, Barry Sheerman, Peter Bottomley, Stephen Hammond, Siān C. James, Diane Abbott and Rosie Cooper.

 

20th June

House of Commons

  Mandatory ISP Blocking

Helen Goodman (Bishop Auckland) (Lab): What further steps he plans to take to stop pornographic images of children being downloaded from the internet?

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Mr. Vernon Coaker): We continue to work closely with law enforcement agencies, the new Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, industry and international colleagues, to tackle the downloading of such images. I have recently set the UK internet industry a target to ensure that by the end of 2007, all internet service providers offering broadband internet connectivity to the UK public prevent their customers from accessing those websites.

Helen Goodman: As my hon. Friend knows, BT is blocking about 35,000 attempts every day to download child pornography from websites. Can he explain whether the announcement that he has just made about the target will be a compulsory regulation for the ISPs, which is necessary in order to cut the market and end child abuse around the world?

Coaker: We are determined to tackle that abuse, and our abhorrence is shared across the House. We expect 90%. of internet service providers to have blocked access to sites abroad by the end of 2006. The target is that by the end of 2007 that will be 100%. We believe that working with the industry offers us the best way forward, but we will keep that under review if it looks likely that the targets will not be met.

 

11th May

House of Commons

  Definition of Pornography

Dianne Abbott: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his Department's working definition of pornography is.

Vernon Coaker: There is no statutory definition of ‘pornography' in UK legislation. Under the Obscene Publications Act 1959 it is a criminal offence to publish any article which is considered to be ‘obscene': that is, an article, if its effect when taken as a whole, is such as to tend to ‘deprave and corrupt' persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it.

In the Government's recent Consultation Paper on the Possession of Extreme Pornographic Material, material which is explicit and has been solely, or primarily produced for the purpose of sexual arousal is considered to be ‘pornographic'. By explicit we mean material in which the activity can be clearly seen and is not hidden, disguised or implied. In terms of regulation, we consider the harm that any type of material (whether pornography, violence, portrayal of drugs use, etc.) is likely to cause to the vulnerable, particularly children.

 

1st March

House of Commons

  Video Games

Keith Vaz (Leicester, East) (Lab): I beg to move,

That leave be given to bring in a Bill to amend the Video Recordings Act 1984 to extend certain provisions of that Act to video games and to make provision about the labelling of video games.

Video games have increasingly life-like graphics and antisocial themes. Their regulation has improved, but it has not gone far enough. The voluntary code must be made statutory and further safeguards put in place to protect our children.

Over the past two years, other hon. Members and I have campaigned to control the sale of video games to young people, following the tragic death of Stefan Pakeerah—a 14-year-old Leicester schoolboy who was brutally murdered. Stefan's parents believe that the perpetrator of that savage attack was influenced by the video game "Manhunt". Stefan's mother, Giselle Pakeerah, has been campaigning to ban the sale of the game. I pay tribute to Mrs. Pakeerah—a brave and courageous mother who, in her grief, could easily have let matters pass by doing nothing, but who started an impressive campaign on this issue.

Towards the end of 2004, Mrs. Pakeerah and I met the Prime Minister and urged him to tackle the menace of violent video games by examining the existing law governing the classification of such games and, in particular, labelling, and by requesting the British Board of Film Classification to take a more cautious approach. I am most grateful to the Prime Minister for his concern on this issue. Following the meeting, in December 2004, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department of Trade and Industry met representatives from the video games industry to consider the adequacy of existing provisions. Some new voluntary measures were introduced. New labelling for age restrictions is now twice the size it was a year ago. I welcome the industry's efforts in beginning to take action.

I am also grateful to the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my hon. Friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (James Purnell), who has responsibility for the creative industries, for meeting me to discuss their Department's continuing willingness to explore ways to strengthen such protection.

The concern about video and computer games is based on the belief that violent games are totally inappropriate for young children. Between the ages of seven and 17, children will play an average of eight hours of video games a week. However, despite recent voluntary steps, this aspect of children's entertainment is highly under-regulated. Moreover, the regulation that does exist is barely enforced.

The video games industry in the United Kingdom is widely and rightly seen as one of our many economic success stories. The latest figures show that the software development and publishing industry in the UK is worth £711 million. Most games on the market are appropriate for young players, but the few games that feature violence, crime and antisocial behaviour have led to concerns being raised. The Bill is not intended to censor the industry. However, we must recognise that it is our duty to protect our children from inappropriate influences such as violent video games.

The current trend in video games is for players to be the bad guys and act out criminal fantasies, earning points for attacking and killing innocent bystanders. In the forthcoming Rockstar video game "Bully", players take on the role of Jimmy Hopkins, a school boy at a boarding school. They get points for physically and psychologically tormenting other children. More than 50 Members have signed early-day motion 1172, which calls for the game to be banned.

The 2004 game "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" has been among the top 10 best-selling games for the past two years and has sold a total of 12 million copies worldwide, including 1 million copies in the United Kingdom in the first nine days after its release. The game contained a hidden code that could be unlocked by players and which introduced to the game scenes in which characters performed sexually explicit acts. Following campaigns in the United States, the publishers were forced to recall and rewrite the game to remove the hidden code.

Although those games are rated 18 for adult audiences, they are extremely popular among young people. This type of content is wholly inappropriate and unacceptable, but, regrettably, that is the path down which the games are heading. British research into the effects of video games has been inconclusive so far. A number of studies, including research published by DCMS today, have found no conclusive evidence that video games can influence children's behaviour. However, studies into the long-term effects of video games are in their infancy and are at best speculative. Due to ethical difficulties associated with exposing children to adult material, it is difficult to secure conclusive evidence either way—difficult, but not impossible.

On 25 January 2006, during Prime Minister's questions, I raised the findings of new research published by Professor Bruce Bartholow of the university of Missouri-Columbia last year, which shows that people who play violent video games become desensitised to violence and are more likely to commit aggressive acts. It is the first research to show that playing violent video games diminishes brain reactions to violent images. It shows a link between the playing of violent video games and a propensity to commit aggressive acts. Those who believe that violent video games have no effect on the person playing them are ignoring the facts. The link exists and should give us great cause for concern.

The implications of the research, which was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, are far-reaching. Every precaution should be taken to ensure that children are not exposed to games that will diminish their sensitivity to violence. Children need to be protected from violent games for this reason: although a child's morality continues to grow and mature as they grow older, they are still immature and lack the necessary capabilities to deal with the exposure to violence that these games give them. The warnings offered by the research need to be taken seriously and should urge us all towards cautionary, preventive regulations to protect our children.

At the moment, regulation is very confusing, as two rating systems are in use: the BBFC, which rates about 2 per cent. of games, and the voluntary PEGI, or pan-European game information, system. The director of the Entertainment and Leisure Software Publishers Association, Roger Bennett, concedes that the ratings are not always clear. He states:

BBFC ratings are on the front of games boxes, while ELSPA's are on the back. If a game does not have a BBFC rating, people sometimes assume it is suitable for children, forgetting to check the back.

Furthermore, a study by the Swiss firm Modulum showed that

parents perceive age ratings as a guide but not as a definitive prohibition.

Current regulations are often ignored by retailers. An investigation for Tonight with Trevor McDonald in November 2004 uncovered the fact that children as young as 12 had managed to buy adult video games. Over two thirds of 11 to 14-year-old boys questioned admitted to playing video games with an 18 certificate. On camera, children between the ages of 12 and 14 were shown buying adult video games from Tesco, Virgin, Dixons, John Lewis, Sainsbury's and Asda.

Other countries have adopted a different approach. In Canada, in the European Union and even in the United States, action has been taken. This Bill will make it a requirement not only to have a larger sign indicating the certificate but to have an accompanying description of the content that led to the game being given that rating.

This is not about adult censorship; it is about protecting our children. We need to act now before it is too late.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill ordered to be brought in by Keith Vaz, Annette Brooke, Mrs. Betty Williams, Mr. Edward O'Hara, Mr. Elfyn Llwyd, Mrs. Iris Robinson, Jessica Morden, Miss Julie Kirkbride, Mr. Mike Hancock, Sir Nicholas Winterton, Mr. Stephen Crabb and Derek Wyatt.

Keith Vaz accordingly presented a Bill to amend the Video Recordings Act 1984 to extend certain provisions of that Act to video games and to make provision about the labelling of video games: And the same was read the First time; and ordered to be read a Second time on

 

1st March

House of Commons

  Pornography Prosecutions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 25 January 2006 to the hon. Member for Crosby, Official Report, column 2135W, on pornography, how many successful prosecutions have been brought in each of the last three years under (a) the Obscene Publications Act 1959, (b) the Indecent Displays Act 1981, (c) the Communications Act 2003, (d) the Video Recordings Act 1984 and (e) the Protection of Children Act 1999 for the illegal transference of pornography to minors. [49306]

Fiona Mactaggart: Data from the court proceedings database held by the Office for Criminal Justice reform, showing the number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for selected offences related to pornography, is provided in the attached table, for England and Wales, 2002–04. It is not possible to identify how many of these prosecutions relate to the illegal transference to minors because the individual circumstances of these prosecution are not collected centrally. Data for 2005 will be available in the autumn of 2006.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for selected offences related to pornography, England and Wales, 2002–04
 
2002
2003
2004
Offence description
Principal statue
Proceeded against Found guiltyProceeded against Found guiltyProceeded against Found guilty
Prohibition of publication of obscene matter
Obscene Publications Act 1959 S.2(1) as amended by Obscene Publications Act 1964 8.1(1)
52 4239 31 3025
Take, permit to be taken or to make distribute or publish indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children
Protection of Children Act 1978 S.1 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.84
582 4341,464 1,048 1,097978
Indecent matter publicly
Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981 SS.1 and 4
3 6 3 2
Supplying video recording of unclassified work
Video Recording Act 1984 S.9 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88
62 5944 44 4231
Video recording of unclassified work for the purpose of supply
Video Recording Act 1984 S.10 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88
6462 40 3149 43
Supplying video recording of classified work in breach of classification
Video Recording Act 1984 S.11 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88
2214 25 1711 8
Certain video recordings only to be supplied in licensed sex shops
Video Recording Act 1984 S.12 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88
94 13 1064 48
Supply of video recording not complying with requirements as to labels etc
Video Recording Act 1984 S.13
1
Supply of video recordings containing false indication as to classification
Video Recording Act 1984 S.14 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88
2 2 2
Improper use of public electronic communications network
Communications Act 2003 S.127
n/a n/a n/an/a 214 143

 

16th February

Home Office Questions

  Pornography Prosecutions

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the answer of 25 January 2006 to the hon. Member for Crosby, Official Report, column 2135W, on pornography, how many successful prosecutions have been brought in each of the last three years under (a) the Obscene Publications Act 1959, (b) the Indecent Displays Act 1981, (c) the Communications Act 2003, (d) the Video Recordings Act 1984 and (e) the Protection of Children Act 1999 for the illegal transference of pornography to minors. [49306]

Fiona Mactaggart: Data from the court proceedings database held by the Office for Criminal Justice reform, showing the number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for selected offences related to pornography, is provided in the attached table, for England and Wales, 2002–04. It is not possible to identify how many of these prosecutions relate to the illegal transference to minors because the individual circumstances of these prosecution are not collected centrally. Data for 2005 will be available in the autumn of 2006.

Number of defendants proceeded against at magistrates courts and found guilty at all courts for selected offences related to pornography, England and Wales, 2002–04
 
2002
2003
2004
Offence description Principal statue Proceeded against Found guiltyProceeded against Found guiltyProceeded against Found guilty
Prohibition of publication of obscene matterObscene Publications Act 1959 S.2(1) as amended by Obscene Publications Act 1964 8.1(1) 52 4239 31 3025
Take, permit to be taken or to make distribute or publish indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children Protection of Children Act 1978 S.1 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.84582 4341,464 1,048 1,097978
Indecent matter publicly Indecent Displays (Control) Act 1981 SS.1 and 4 3 6 3 2
Supplying video recording of unclassified workVideo Recording Act 1984 S.9 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88 62 5944 44 4231
Video recording of unclassified work for the purpose of supplyVideo Recording Act 1984 S.10 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88 6462 40 3149 43
Supplying video recording of classified work in breach of classification Video Recording Act 1984 S.11 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88 2214 25 1711 8
Certain video recordings only to be supplied in licensed sex shops Video Recording Act 1984 S.12 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88 94 13 1064 48
Supply of video recording not complying with requirements as to labels etc Video Recording Act 1984 S.13 1
Supply of video recordings containing false indication as to classification Video Recording Act 1984 S.14 as amended by Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 S.88 2 2 2
Improper use of public electronic communications networkCommunications Act 2003 S.127n/a n/a n/an/a 214 143