The Role of Photographic and Video Documentation in the Investigation and Prosecution of Child Sexual Assault
Journal of Law and Medicine, Vol. 23, No. 4, pp. 925-937, 2016
17 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2016
Date Written: August 25, 2016
Photographic documentation of the ano-genital region is an established aspect of practice in the medical assessment of children and young people where there is a suspicion of child sexual abuse. Such photo-documentation is normally collected by means of a colposcope. This provides a non-intrusive means of magnification and photographic documentation of the genital and perianal area.
In spite of its widespread acceptance by medical investigators, the use of colposcopy has attracted some controversy. Concerns have been expressed about potential negative aspects arising from the use of photo-documentation. How does the child experience the photographing or videotaping of his or her ano-genital area? Are there particular issues when children have been photographed for pornographic purposes by the alleged perpetrator? Will the defendant be prejudiced if those photographs are shown to the jury? What is the impact on the victim if those photographs are made available to the accused for the purposes of his/her defence? This article reviews the available research evidence in order to answer these questions and consider whether legal reforms are needed to better protect children from the unnecessary use, or misuse, of intimate photographic evidence in the criminal justice process.
Keywords: children, child sexual abuse, criminal law, medico-legal, evidence, photography
JEL Classification: K10, K30, K36
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation