Computer Crime Research Center


A typology of online child pornography offending

Date: May 16, 2005
Source: Australian Institute of Criminology
By: Tony Krone, PhD

... child pornography. The literature on adults with a sexual interest in children 'fails to accommodate behaviour that relates to the new technologies' (Taylor &Quayle 2003). Not only does this failure impede the treatment of offenders, it also hampers the ability to prioritise matters for investigation and for prosecution. At this stage, we can speak of associations between risk factors and models of offending behaviour. Drawing on the work by Taylor and Quayle (2003), the following are markers of serious online offending:

- possessing new or recent images, extreme images, or images associated with text;
- participating in an online community of offenders;
- trading in images; and
- cataloguing of images.

Investigators need to consider the extent to which an offender found with child pornography may be involved in other levels of offending. The development of predictive indicators of involvement would therefore be an important advance in combating child pornography.

In the meantime, law enforcement agencies must prioritise their investigation efforts. A useful scale of priorities has been developed in the UK in response to the flood of cases from Operation Ore. The top priority is given to cases involving convicted paedophiles and those with access to children, such as teachers and social workers. The second priority is given to cases involving people in positions of authority, for example police and magistrates. The third is for suspects not involved with children.


There is no doubting the importance of combating online child pornography in order to protect children from abuse. More research is needed to properly understand the problem, to fully assess the nature and scale of offending, to identify and protect victims and, ultimately, to ensure that our approach is both effective and just.


This research was funded by the Australian High Tech Crime Centre (


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Dr Tony Krone is a research analyst at the Australian Institute of Criminology

This work is a result of a collaborative program between the Australian Institute of Criminology and the Australian High Tech Crime Centre.
Original article

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