What Does The Law Say

  • All Wales School Liaison Core Programme

    Mobile phones and the Law

  • A mobile phone is a device that can make and receive telephone calls using a radio link.

    Smart phones also support a wide range of services such as text messaging, email, internet access, gaming and photography.

  • The law in relation to mobile phones is complex.  It draws on laws already in existence that protect both children and adults.

  • It is illegal to have and to send and receive indecent images of children (under 18s) from your mobile

    Possession is dealt with under section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1960.

    Penalty – 5 years imprisonment

    Distributing images is dealt with under section 1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978.

    Penalty – 10 years imprisonment

    Summary Conviction – 6 months imprisonment and/or statutory maximum fine

  • distributing indecent images of a child

    Any images that depict a person under 18 years of age in an indecent way are against the law.

    The legislation for England and Wales which deals directly with offences concerning indecent images of children are:

    The Protection of Children Act 1978 – Section 1

    The Criminal Justice Act 1988 – Section 160

    Section 160 of the Criminal Justice Act also covers the offence of possession of an indecent image of a child. There is no requirement that the defendant had to have any motive in relation to making or distributing the image – all which is required is that the defendant had the image in his possession.

    Offences carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

  • malicious communications

    The Malicious Communications Act 1988  makes it an offence to send a letter or other article which conveys an indecent or grossly offensive message or a threat, or which contains information known to be false, where the purpose of sending it is to cause distress or anxiety.

    This Act has been expanded by the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 to cover the sending, delivery or transmission of electronic communications or articles of any description. This new definition will cover hate telephone calls, emails or text messages.

    Improper use of public electronic communications network - Communications Act 2003, section 127 states the offence is one of sending, delivering or transmitting, so there is no requirement for the article to reach the intended recipient.

    A person guilty of an offence under the Communications Act, 2003. section 127, shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine or to both.

  • grooming

    Grooming is when an adult deliberately befriends a child and gains their trust with the intention of sexually harming them.

    The offence under section 15 Sexual Offences Act 2003 is one of meeting a child with the intent to have sexual contact with him or her.
    Section 15 (1) states that:

    • the offender must either have met or communicated with the child on two previous occasions;
    • the offender must then either meet the child or travel with the intention of meeting the child; and at that time, have the intention of committing a sexual offence.

    In a case where no substantive sexual offence has in fact been committed, the main dimension of seriousness will be the offender's intention - the more serious the offence intended, the higher the offender's culpability.

    Penalties for this kind of offence are between 1 and 7 years.

  • Harassment is defined as alarming
    a person or causing distress

    Penalties can be up to 6 months imprisonment or a £5000 fine when the court decides it is reasonable to call it harassment OR if tried in a crown court can be up to 5 years in prison.

    Section 1 of the Protection from Harassment Act 1977 says that a person must not pursue a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another.

  • harassment –
    through digital media

    Internet harassment laws make it a criminal act to use electronic devices (including phones and computers) to threaten, torment, stalk, intimidate or otherwise distress a person. (Protection from Harassment Act 1997, Malicious Communications Act 1988 and Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001).

    The offences may carry a penalty for up to 5 years imprisonment.

  • copyright infringement

    The 1911 Act says that an individual's work is automatically under copyright,  as soon as it leaves his/her mind and is embodied in some physical form: be it a novel, a painting, a musical work - recorded or written in manuscript, or an architectural schematic.

    This remains the legal position under the Schedules of 1956 Act and of the 1988 Act.

    If you're caught downloading copyrighted music or videos from the Internet, you may face action from the person who owns the copyright of whatever you've downloaded, or from your Internet service provider.

    This may take the form of a substantial fine or prison sentence.

  • Using Mobile Phones Whilst Driving

    Since 2003 it has been an offence to operate a hand-held mobile phone whilst driving.

    The penalty for anyone caught doing so is 3 points on your licence and a minimum fine of £60.

    However, if your case goes to court you may face disqualification from driving and a fine of up to £1,000.

    Drivers of buses or goods vehicles can be fined up to £2,500.