The Obscene Publications Act and the Protection of Children Act

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The Obscene Publications Act (1959)

The Act created a new offence for publishing obscene material. After several failed attempts to push a bill through Parliament, a committee finally succeeded in creating a viable bill, which was introduced to Parliament by Roy Jenkins and given the Royal Assent on 29 July 1959, coming into force on 29 August 1959 as the Obscene Publications Act 1959. With the committee consisting of both censors and reformers, the actual reform of the law was limited, with several extensions to police powers included in the final version. It also allows Justices of the Peace to issue warrants allowing the police to seize such materials. At the same time it creates two defences; firstly, the defence of innocent dissemination, and secondly the defence of public good. The Act has been used in several high-profile cases, such as the trials of Penguin Books for publishing Lady Chatterley's Lover and Oz for the Schoolkids OZ issue.

The Protection of Children Act (1999)

The Protection of Children Act was established in 1999 and came into force in October of 2000. It was put in place for the Secretary of State to hold a duty of keeping record of data on individuals listed unsuitable to work with children. Organisations and employers are required to check the list before hiring employees into a position that involves children, as well as adding to the list if anyone fulfils the criteria making them unsuitable to work with children. This enforcement applies to all forms of employment, whether paid or unpaid, or not in contract.

Areas where this act is applied include:
• Employment positions involving children
• Voluntary organisations through the "uniformed" youth activities (Scouts, Guides, Cadet Forces etc)
• National and local youth clubs
• Religious organisations
• Sporting and leisure groups where activities are undertaken by children