Punishment for breaking social distancing and possessing indecent images of children can vary
21st Sep 2020
Punishment for breaking lockdown is harsher than for possessing images of child abuse.
Sentencing for both crimes varies greatly. The fine cited for breaking lockdown (£3,400) is roughly correct after numerous breaches, and punishment for possession of indecent images of children can vary depending on the exact offence.
The post reads:
“You can get upto [sic] a £3,400 fine for being in a group of more than 6 people but if you have 31 images of child sex abuse in the worst category you only get a £425 fine, a 40-day course and a suspended sentence.”
This refers to a real case, where a man from Devon admitted three counts of making indecent images of children, and two of possession of extreme adult images. Police discovered 31 images from the most serious category of child abuse, along with 164 less serious child abuse images and more than 300 images of bestiality and violent content. He admitted the charges against him, and was given a sentence of eight months, suspended for two years, along with a £425 fine, a rehabilitation course, and added to the sex offenders register.
The Facebook post claims that you could get fined up to £3,400 for meeting in a group bigger than six. This rule is not the same across the UK, so you should check your local guidance.
In England, if you are part of a group that exceeds six people and refuse to disperse, you can be fined £100, which is reduced to £50 if paid within 14 days. If you repeatedly offend, this can be doubled each time up to £3,200, and up to £10,000 for organisers of large gatherings, for example, illegal raves. You can find information for Scotland here, Northern Ireland here, and Wales here.
Punishment for the possession, distribution or production of indecent images of children can vary widely depending on the type of offence, and other factors, such as the volume of images, if the defendant shows remorse, and if it is the first offence committed. According to guidance from the Sentencing Council, punishment for making indecent images can be a maximum of ten years in custody.
This article is part of our work fact checking potentially false pictures, videos and stories on Facebook. You can read more about this—and find out how to report Facebook content—here. For the purposes of that scheme, we’ve rated this claim as missing context because the punishment for both of these crimes can vary hugely.
Correction 23 September 2020
We've changed this article to correct the text in the claim field, which was the wrong way around.