Child exploitation material

Download the spotlight (PDF, 901.6 KB)

This report is part of the Sentencing Spotlight series. These publications present statistics on sentencing outcomes for offences finalised in Queensland courts. Our Sentencing Spotlight on child exploitation material offences (CEM) provides insight into cases sentenced between July 2006 and June 2016.

Our research found:

Court and diversion

  • 3035 offenders, responsible for 8198 CEM related offences, were dealt with by the criminal justice system over the 10-year period
  • 1470 children were dealt with by Queensland Police Service (QPS) via a caution or conference
  • 1565 offenders were sentenced in Queensland courts (including 28 children)

Diversion (dealt with by QPS)

  • offences dealt with by QPS by way of caution or conference fell into three Queensland offence categories: possession (35.4%), distribution (34.4%) and production (29.7%). Only 0.5% were Commonwealth offences
  • children were predominantly diverted by QPS for sexting-based offences
  • male offenders comprised 54.8% while female offenders comprised 45.2% of children diverted
  • 159 (10.8%) children diverted were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • the average age of children dealt with by QPS diversion was 14.8 years
  • of all children diverted by QPS, the vast majority were dealt with via a formal caution (92.9%), with only 7.1% attending a youth justice conference


  • offenders dealt with in court were mostly in relation to possession (49.5%), followed by offences under Commonwealth legislation (34.3%)
  • male offenders comprised 98.5% of those sentenced in court
  • 57 (3.6%) of offenders were Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
  • the average age of offenders was 39.9 years
  • two-thirds of offenders in court were dealt with solely for CEM offences
  • 354 offenders (22.6%) were sentenced for CEM offences in conjunction with other, more serious offending, the majority of which was contact offending
  • almost all defendants sentenced in court for CEM offences pleaded guilty (97.5%)
  • of all offenders sentenced in court, the majority (78.1%) received a custodial penalty of some sort. Most of these were a suspended sentence of imprisonment (72.4%)
  • the median custodial duration received for a CEM offence (where it was the most serious offence) was 11.8 months.

Read the media release

Classification of child exploitation materials for sentencing purposes

We released a final report in July 2017 and made 16 recommendations to Queensland Government.

Technical paper

Our technical paper explains important terminology, data sources, counting rules and methodologies for our research publications.
Download technical paper (PDF, 139.3 KB)