The impact of Covid 19 on Indecent Image Investigations

Written 1st March 2021 by Helen Buxton

We are fast approaching the anniversary of the beginning of the pandemic.

The previous twelve months have been extremely challenging for everyone and have resulted in a large percentage of the population spending much more time at home.

The pandemic has changed the face of crime with certain areas of offending decreasing, and some on the increase.  One area of offending most notably on the rise is the possession and distribution of indecent images.   

According to the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, there has been a year on year rise in images circulating online and every month around 700 men are arrested or are voluntarily interviewed on suspicion of possession of such images.

Police investigations which involve the seizure and analysis of digital devices are now taking far longer to conclude.

Forensic analysis electronic devices

In April 2020, during the early stages of the first lockdown, police forces in England and Wales had thousands of digital devices waiting to be examined by investigators.

Figures from February/March 2020 total 12,122  devices including computers, tablets and phones that were awaiting examination across 32 forces. 

The backlog has inevitably increased in size over the last year.

The minimum time expected for the analysis and return of devices, in some cases,  is  in excess of 12 months.

Investigators are overwhelmed by the amount of digital devices they must deal with.

These delays inevitably also impact extremely negatively on persons who have been released under investigation following their initial police interview. 

Indecent images investigations 

Their lives are effectively placed  on hold whilst the lengthy investigation into indecent images is conducted.

The stress of these lengthy delays can result in job losses, mental health issues and the breakdown of relationships.

As we approach the roadmap out of lockdown, this area of offending and the subsequent backlog of devices awaiting analysis looks set to continue throughout 2021 and beyond.

Indecent Images Lawyers

Article written by Helen Buxton. If you face investigation in reliant to an allegation of indecent images please contact Ruth Peters at Olliers Solicitor on 0161 834 1515 to discuss how Olliers proactive approach can assist you.

Helen Buxton

Helen Buxton



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