Consultation opens on review into classification of child exploitation materials for sentencing purposes

Media release

13 March 2017

The Queensland Sentencing Advisory Council (QSAC) has today launched a public consultation on its review of the classification of child exploitation material (CEM) for sentencing purposes.

The review will assess if improvements to the current classification system are required and, if so, what alternatives should be implemented.

QSAC CEM project board member Helen Watkins said: “Advances in the reach and capacity of technology has led to an increase in the availability of CEM. The number of offenders sentenced for this offence has doubled in the last 10 years.

“An average CEM case involves more than 100,000 individual files to be reviewed — this potentially includes photos, video and/or evidence of internet streaming.

“Queensland uses the Oliver scale to classify the severity and type of images involved. This nine-level classification tool categorises images according to the kinds of activity depicted.

“Currently officers must view all images to initially assess if the files are CEM under existing Queensland legislation, and then categorise them according to the relevant Oliver scale.

“As well as being traumatic for the officers involved, this is time consuming, potentially diverts resources from identifying the young victims of this crime and is linked to time delays in sentencing offenders.

“Let’s not forget, this crime involves Queensland offenders and young Queensland victims.”

The review follows the release of the 2015 report of the Queensland Organised Crime Commission of Inquiry which identified concerns about Queensland’s current classification approach to CEM.

Ms Watkins added: “We are not only looking at what the evidence is telling us about the situation now but also projecting how this crime may evolve in the future.”

“We will be making recommendations about how the current classification system can be streamlined to deliver justice in a timely and fair way.”

As well as the public consultation, QSAC is speaking directly with key stakeholders such as the Queensland Police Service and various representatives from the legal community and victims groups.

QSAC will report the findings of its review to the Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath on 31 May 2017.

The consultation runs for four weeks from Monday 13 March to Monday 10 April 2017, during which time respondents are asked to consider 10 questions.