What is “Extreme”?

No one yet knows what a Jury might decide

The CPS say “Although the Act does not state what a serious injury is, prosecutors must be aware that by the very nature of its name serious injury will not include trivial or transient injuries which include bruises and grazes.”

The Ministry of Justice’s own advice helpfully says “As with any law, once Parliament has passed it, it is for the courts to interpret and apply it.”

They go on to say:

“10. An extreme act is one which threatens a person’s life, which results or is likely to result in serious injury to a person’s anus, breasts or genitals, which involves sexual interference with a human corpse, or which involves a person performing intercourse or oral sex with an animal. Only these specific acts will be caught, and only in conjunction with the other two elements of the offence.

11. Life-threatening is not defined in the Act. It will therefore take its ordinary English meaning and will be a question of fact for the magistrate or jury. It could include depictions of hanging, suffocation, or sexual assault involving a threat with a weapon.

12. Serious injury is not defined in the Act. It will be a question of fact for the magistrate or jury. The intention is that “serious injury” should be given its ordinary English meaning. The reference to “serious injury” was not intended to expressly link into the case law with respect to “grievous bodily harm” under Sections 8 and 20 of the Offences Against the Person Act 86 . Serious injury could include the insertion of sharp objects or the mutilation of breasts or genitals.

13. As well as being a specified act, an extreme act must be explicit and realistic. Both those terms take their ordinary dictionary definition.

14. A further requirement in respect of an extreme act is that a reasonable person looking at the image would think that the people and animals portrayed were real. The practical effect of that requirement is that only photographs and films, and images which are indistinguishable from photographs and films, will be caught by the offence.”

Scarification and Tattoos

In the case of extreme body modifications such as scarification by breaking the skin the law is not quite clear as no cases involving practitioners have yet come up to be ruled out by the court, let alone deciding if images of them are to be considered extreme.

The January 2009 case of Dominique Fisher may shed some light on current judicial views.

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  • Backlash is an umbrella organisation providing academic, legal and campaigning resources defending freedom of sexual expression. We support the rights of adults to participate in all consensual sexual activities and to watch, read and create any fictional interpretation of such in any media.