People caught possessing documents containing practical advice on how to commit sexual offences against children will face tough sentences, Justice Minister Damian Green has said.
The minister announced that the so-called ‘paedophile manuals’ will be outlawed by the creation of a new criminal offence with a maximum penalty of three years in prison.
It is currently against the law to possess indecent images of children but there is no existing offence of possessing manuals which give advice on how to groom or abuse children sexually.
“The contents of these so-called manuals are both disgusting and deeply disturbing. Their purpose is to facilitate sexual offending against children and we will do all we can to stop that,” Mr Green said. “All sexual offences are abhorrent and our laws to protect children in this area are already very robust but we are now making absolutely sure that people caught in possession of this material can be properly punished. They should be left in no doubt – they will face the full force of the law.”
Under the current law, it is illegal to produce, circulate or possess with a view to distribute any indecent photograph of a child under 18. Possession of an indecent photograph of a child is also an offence. The Obscene Publications Act 1959 can currently be used to prosecute people publishing paedophile manuals but not simply possessing them.
The government plans to create the new offence as part of the new Serious Crime Bill as soon as possible. It is expected to come into effect next year.