Determinants of sentencing for child pornography related offending

Dr David Tuck1

1Forensic Mental Health Service (Tas), Hobart, Australia



With the rapid proliferation of internet pornography, and more specifically, child exploitation material, a need was created to adopt a method for uniformed, standardised classification of the seriousness of such material. The assumptions of such a classification system are that the higher the quantity of images or videos and the higher the category of the material, then it should follow that the offender’s crimes are inherently more serious and there is more need for a longer custodial sentence. Further inferences are made regarding risk of future internet offending, and/or the risk of contact offending. This pilot study investigates the length of sentences of 40 Tasmanian individuals that have been charged with child exploitation offences, and analyses the contribution of quantity and category of exploitation material to their respective sentences.


The sentencing comments of 40 individuals charged with child exploitation material possession were analysed for length of sentence, as well as quantity and category of material according to either the Oliver scale or the Australian National Victim Image Library (ANVIL) scale. Analyses were conducted to investigate the correlation between quantity and category with length of sentence. Post-hoc qualitative reviews were conducted to explore further variables that were considered in sentencing.

Results and Discussion

Both the Oliver scale and the ANVIL scale showed moderate correlations with length of sentences, with image-related material being more consistently correlated with length of sentences than video-related material. However, a number of idiosyncratic determinants and considerations were identified on review.


Dr David Tuck is a Clinical Psychologist, working for the Tasmanian Health Service as the acting Clinical Coordinator for the state’s Forensic Mental Health Service. Dr Tuck’s current research interests are in personality assessment, criminal offending profiles, malingering and psychopathy.

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