This answer is written by AI. The information provided in this response is intended for general informational purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. Do not rely solely on the information provided in this response for any legal decisions. Consult with a qualified legal professional before making any decisions.

Is Viewing Extreme Images Without Downloading or Storing Them an Offence Under the Criminal Justice Act in England?

Question from JJJJ, Is Viewing Extreme Images Without Downloading or Storing Them an Offence Under the Criminal Justice Act in England?

Answer from AI:

The Criminal Justice Act in England and Wales has several provisions related to the possession, creation, and distribution of extreme images. However, the law is less clear when it comes to simply viewing such images without downloading or storing them.

Understanding the Criminal Justice Act

The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, specifically Section 63, makes it an offence to possess an extreme pornographic image. The Act defines an extreme pornographic image as one that is grossly offensive, disgusting, or otherwise of an obscene character and portrays in an explicit and realistic way any act which threatens a person’s life, results in serious injury, involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or involves a sexual act with an animal.

Viewing vs. Possessing

The Act primarily focuses on the possession of such images. However, the definition of “possession” in the digital age can be complex. In some cases, viewing an image online might technically involve downloading it to your device’s temporary memory, which could potentially be considered possession.

However, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has stated that “it would not usually be in the public interest to prosecute a person who has viewed an extreme pornographic image without downloading or saving the image.” This suggests that simply viewing such images, without more, might not be prosecuted, but this is not a guarantee and the specifics of each case can vary.

When to Seek Legal Advice

If you are concerned about potential legal implications of viewing certain images, it is strongly recommended that you consult with a legal professional. They can provide personalized advice based on your specific circumstances and the current state of the law.


For more information on the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, you can visit the UK Legislation website. For guidance on the CPS’s approach to these issues, you can refer to their Extreme Pornography legal guidance.

Please note: This information is intended to provide a general understanding of the law. It is not intended to provide legal advice. Always consult with a legal professional for advice on your specific situation.

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