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Rules on ‘obscene’ pornography relaxed by Crown Prosecution Service | UK News



The Crown Prosecution Service has relaxed the guidelines in England and Wales about what counts as “obscene” pornography.

It means pornographic material produced by consenting adults engaging in legal acts is unlikely to be prosecuted.

The Obscene Publications Act, which was introduced in 1959, was designed to protect the public from material which could “deprave or corrupt” them.

Under the act, owning or distributing an “obscene” video was an offence and the guidance could have led to prosecutions.

But jurors are believed to increasingly take a more liberal view on what material could corrupt the public’s minds – which meant it was more difficult for successful prosecutions.

Bondage, including the presence of a “gag”, was previously listed among the acts that were listed as obscene by the CPS.

However now instead of a list of forbidden acts there will be a series of “tests” to establish if videos or photos are obscene.

The new guidance says owning or producing pornographic material is unlikely to be prosecuted if:

:: It is consensual

:: No serious harm is caused, whether physical or other

:: It is not otherwise inextricably linked with other criminality

:: The likely audience is not under 18.

The CPS pointed out that “publications which show or depict the infliction of serious harm may be considered to be obscene publications because they show criminal assault notwithstanding the consent of the victim”.

“This includes dismemberment and graphic mutilation. It includes asphyxiation causing unconsciousness, which is more than transient and trifling, and given its danger is serious.”

It added: “Sexual/pornographic activity which involves the commission of a crime is likely to be obscene.

“Its criminalisation indicates its tendency to deprave or corrupt; where publication may tend to normalise or glorify such activity, or encourage its emulation, the statutory test of obscenity accordingly will likely be met.”

A CPS spokesperson said the changes followed a public consultation.

They said: “It is not for the CPS to decide what is considered good taste or objectionable.

“We do not propose to bring charges based on material that depicts consensual and legal activity between adults, where no serious harm is caused and the likely audience is over the age of 18.”

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