For those who may not recognise it, this is Caravaggio’s St John the Baptist, which is currently on display in Siena Cathedral. The artist was apparently in the habit of treating his boy models in a way that would give Esther Rantzen a stroke. Should any English tourist suspected of looking at this be arrested and charged on his return from Italy? Or is it only proley paedos who get done in England?
The law is consolidated in section 62 of the Coroners and Justice Act 2009:
Possession of prohibited images of children.
(1)It is an offence for a person to be in possession of a prohibited image of a child.
(2)A prohibited image is an image which—
(b)falls within subsection (6), and
(c)is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene character.
(3)An image is “pornographic” if it is of such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.
(4)Where (as found in the person’s possession) an image forms part of a series of images, the question whether the image is of such a nature as is mentioned in subsection (3) is to be determined by reference to—
(a)the image itself, and
(b)(if the series of images is such as to be capable of providing a context for the image) the context in which it occurs in the series of images.
(5)So, for example, where—
(a)an image forms an integral part of a narrative constituted by a series of images, and
(b)having regard to those images as a whole, they are not of such a nature that they must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal,
the image may, by virtue of being part of that narrative, be found not to be pornographic, even though it might have been found to be pornographic if taken by itself.
(6)An image falls within this subsection if it—
(a)is an image which focuses solely or principally on a child’s genitals or anal region, or
(b)portrays any of the acts mentioned in subsection (7). .
(7)Those acts are—
(a)the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with or in the presence of a child;
(b)an act of masturbation by, of, involving or in the presence of a child;
(c)an act which involves penetration of the vagina or anus of a child with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(d)an act of penetration, in the presence of a child, of the vagina or anus of a person with a part of a person’s body or with anything else;
(e)the performance by a child of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary);
(f)the performance by a person of an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive or imaginary) in the presence of a child.
(8)For the purposes of subsection (7), penetration is a continuing act from entry to withdrawal.
(9)Proceedings for an offence under subsection (1) may not be instituted—
(a)in England and Wales, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions;
(b)in Northern Ireland, except by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland.
See section 65 of the same Act:
(1)The following apply for the purposes of sections 62 to 64.
(a)a moving or still image (produced by any means), or
(b)data (stored by any means) which is capable of conversion into an image within paragraph (a).
(3)“Image” does not include an indecent photograph, or indecent pseudo-photograph, of a child.
(4)In subsection (3) “indecent photograph” and “indecent pseudo-photograph” are to be construed—
(a)in relation to England and Wales, in accordance with the Protection of Children Act 1978 (c. 37), and
(b)in relation to Northern Ireland, in accordance with the Protection of Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1978 (S.I. 1978/1047 (N.I. 17)).
(5)“Child”, subject to subsection (6), means a person under the age of 18.
(6)Where an image shows a person the image is to be treated as an image of a child if—
(a)the impression conveyed by the image is that the person shown is a child, or
(b)the predominant impression conveyed is that the person shown is a child despite the fact that some of the physical characteristics shown are not those of a child.
(7)References to an image of a person include references to an image of an imaginary person.
(8)References to an image of a child include references to an image of an imaginary child.