Ministers act against violent porn

People downloading violent and extreme pornographic material could be jailed for up to three years under new proposals announced by the Home Office today.

Minister Vernon Coaker said he would bring forward new legislation to make it illegal for the first time to possess pornography showing scenes of extreme sexual violence.

The news will be seen as a victory for Berkshire woman Liz Longhurst, who has been campaigning for a change in the law ever since her daughter was killed by a man obsessed with strangulation, who looked at pictures of this fetish on the internet.

Her efforts culminated in a 50,000-signature petition being presented to parliament last year, with the support of a number of MPs, including the solicitor general.

“My daughter, Sue, and myself are very pleased that after 30 months of intensive campaigning we have persuaded the government to take action against these horrific internet sites, which can have such a corrupting influence and glorify extreme sexual violence,” the 74-year-old told the BBC today.

The Obscene Publications Act 1959 already makes it illegal to publish and distribute material depicting sexual violence, but the internet has made it increasingly easy to get hold of banned images published abroad.

Today’s proposed law will close this loophole, ensuring that possessing such pornography, including that “featuring violence that is, or appears to be, life threatening or is likely to result in serious and disabling injury”, is illegal on and offline.

“The vast majority of people find these forms of violent and extreme pornography deeply abhorrent,” Mr Coaker said.

“Such material has no place in our society but the advent of the internet has meant that this material is more easily available and means existing controls are being by-passed – we must move to tackle this.

“By banning the possession of such material the government sends out a strong message – that it is totally unacceptable and those who access it will be held to account.”

The legislation has been proposed following a year-long consultation with women’s and children’s groups and police – Mr Coaker also made clear that Mrs Longhurst’s petition had also played a key part.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of the recently established Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre, said today’s proposals showed how legislation must be updated in line with new technological advances.

“It helps take our fight against violent and extreme pornography to where it needs to be – in tune with technology and in line with how the modern criminal mind works,” he said.