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 Material Online Considered Possession Under the Criminal Justice Act in England?

Question from JK, Is Viewing Extreme Material Online Considered Possession Under the Criminal Justice Act in England?

Answer from AI:

The question of whether viewing extreme material online, which results in temporary caching, is considered possession under the Criminal Justice Act in England is complex. The law in this area is not entirely clear, and it can depend on the specific circumstances.

Understanding the Criminal Justice Act

The Criminal Justice Act 1988, specifically Section 160, makes it an offence to possess any indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child. However, the Act does not specifically address the issue of temporary internet files or cached images.

Interpretation of the Law

In general, for a person to be guilty of possession, they must have knowledge of the material and have some degree of control over it. If a person is merely viewing material online and has not downloaded or intentionally saved anything, it could be argued that they do not have control over the material and therefore are not in possession of it.

However, there have been cases where individuals have been prosecuted for possession of indecent images due to the presence of such images in their internet cache, even if they did not intentionally download or save the images. This is a contentious area of law and the interpretation can vary.

Legal Advice

Given the complexity and potential severity of this issue, it is strongly recommended that individuals seek legal advice if they are concerned about this matter. A legal professional can provide personalized advice based on the specific circumstances and the most recent case law.


While the law is not entirely clear, it is always best to err on the side of caution. Avoid viewing extreme material online, as this could potentially lead to legal issues. If you come across such material unintentionally, it is advisable to clear your internet cache immediately.

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 related to your specific situation.

For more information, you can refer to the Criminal Justice Act 1988 and the Crown Prosecution Service’s guidance on indecent images of children.

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