Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France
2 July 2020
Dear Dr Carter
Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Request –
Thank you for your request dated 11 June 2020 in which you asked for the following
information from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ): To whom it may concern:
Could you please provide me with data on the number of prosecutions, both
convictions and acquittals, to the Obscene Publications Act (1959) since 1959 and to
Your request has been handled under the FOIA.
I can confirm the MoJ holds all of the information you have requested. However, to provide
as the request currently stands would exceed the cost limit set out in the FOIA.
Section 12(1) of the FOIA means public authorities are not obliged to comply with a request
for information if it estimates the cost of complying would exceed the appropriate limit. The
appropriate limit for central government is set at £600.
This represents the estimated cost of
one person spending 3.5 working days determining whether the department holds the
information, and locating, retrieving and extracting the information.
Information collated centrally by the MoJ cannot identify offence by offence breakdowns prior
We believe that the cost of locating, retrieving and extracting the requested information from
individual case files at the courts in England and Wales would exceed the appropriate limit.
Consequently, we are not obliged to comply with your request.
Although we cannot answer your request at the moment, we may be able to answer a
refined request within the cost limit. You may wish to consider, for example, requesting
information from 1984 onwards. Please be aware that we cannot guarantee at this stage that
a refined request will fall within the FOIA cost limit, or that other exemptions will not apply.
For guidance on how to structure successful requests please refer to the ICO website on the
following link: http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/official_information
Outside the scope of the FOIA, information on prosecutions from 2013 onwards is available
in the Principal offence proceedings and outcomes by Home Office offence code data
at the below link. Select ‘Possessing offensive material for gain’ from the ‘detailed
offence drop down box. https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/criminal-justice-system-statistics-quarterly-
If you are not satisfied with this response you have the right to request an internal review by
responding in writing to one of the addresses below within two months of the date of this
Disclosure Team, Ministry of Justice
You do have the right to ask the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate any
aspect of your complaint. However, please note that the ICO is likely to expect internal
complaints procedures to have been exhausted before beginning their investigation.
Justice Statistics Analytical Services