‘What did the judge say?’ Judicial commentary on the wrongfulness of using child exploitation material

C.M. Hunn

University of Tasmania, Faculty of Law, Charlotte.Hunn@utas.edu.au

This presentation outlines key findings from an empirical analysis of Tasmanian and Victorian “comments on passing sentence” (COPS) for conduct involving the viewing of child exploitation material (CEM) online. This analysis systematically identifies the reasons that judges recognise for treating this type of offending as wrongful.  This analysis is grounded in concern that there is ‘ambiguity’ about the basis for criminalising this type of conduct (Warner 2010) concomitant to nascent research from Australia suggesting that the general public lack awareness of and potentially disagree with the reasons for criminalising  conduct involving the viewing of CEM online (Prichard et al 2015; Liddell and Taylor 2015). Against this background, this presentation explores the primary prevention value of what judges’ say in passing sentence, identifying the key strengths and limitations of current practices to dispel ambiguity and address the ‘disjunction’ (Prichard et al 2015) between some public attitudes and the law in this area.


Charlotte Hunn BA LLB (Hons) is a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Law, at the University of Tasmania. Her thesis explores issues around the prevention of child exploitation material offending. As an undergraduate, Charlotte founded COMET – a social justice initiative that runs workshops for vulnerable and at risk youth in Tasmania on key aspects of the criminal. COMET aims to empower and promote young peoples’ autonomy.   Charlotte has received a number of awards for her work with COMET including the Sandy Duncanson Social Justice Bursary and recently, the Tasmanian Young Achievers Career Kick Start Award.


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