Tougher child exploitation penalties

ANDREA VANCE
Last updated 11:24 28/08/2012

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People creating or distributing child exploitation images will face a maximum 14 years in jail, under new proposals announced by the government which will also target 'groomers.'

The penalty for making or distributing objectionable images of children will rise from 10 years in jail to 14,
Justice minister Judith Collins said.

Those caught possessing, importing or exporting objectionable publications now face a ten year sentence - up from five.

And a new offence for indecent communication with anyone under 16 will apply to 'groomers' - who target children via chat rooms or social media.

Legislation will be introduced to Parliament later this year.

Collins said the tough new measures will ''future-proof laws'' against advances in technology.

Offenders can access objectionable images of children in ways and at speeds unimagined only a decade ago. Social media and online chat programmes have increased the risk to children, she said.

"The internet allows objectionable material to be easily viewed and shared. New technology enables transmitting, retrieving and storing an almost infinite quantity of data at high speed and low cost - offenders can possess collections of over 100,000 images of sexually exploited children.''

Possession creates a market and encourages production, she said.

"We're also making it clear that possession includes intentionally viewing objectionable material, for example, via streaming video or online chat, even if that material is not downloaded or saved,'' Collins said.

The measures are designed to send a strong message '' that the exploitation and abuse of children will not be tolerated,'' she said.

"Child pornography is a record of terrible abuse suffered by children. We're making changes to ensure sentences reflect the seriousness of the crime, and we're sending a strong message," Collins said.

The new measures include:

* increasing the maximum penalty for possession, import or export of an objectionable publication from 5 years to 10 years imprisonment

* increasing the maximum penalty for distributing or making an objectionable publication from 10 years to 14 years imprisonment

* creating a presumption of imprisonment for repeat offenders - any person convicted of a child exploitation offence for a second time will be sentenced to a term of imprisonment

* making it clear in the Classification Act that possession of objectionable material includes intentionally viewing material over the internet without consciously downloading or saving it

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* creating a new offence of indecent communication with a child (anyone under the age of 16) which includes texting, online and verbal communication.

- Stuff

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