Journal of Police and Criminal Psychology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 103–111 | Cite as

Police Officers’ Perceptions of their Reactions to Viewing Internet Child Exploitation Material

  • Martine Powell
  • Peter Cassematis
  • Mairi Benson
  • Stephen Smallbone
  • Richard Wortley


The purpose of this paper is to extend prior research on the impact of working in the area of Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) investigation by exploring ICE investigators’ perceptions of and reactions to viewing child exploitation material. A diverse sample of 32 ICE investigators across all nine Australian jurisdictions individually participated in anonymous in-depth interviews. Participants were asked to discuss their subjective experience of viewing ICE material and its effect on them and to describe a case that evoked an adverse reaction, the nature of the reaction, and the characteristics of the material that contributed to it. The results revealed that ICE investigators experience salient emotional, cognitive, social and behavioural consequences due to viewing ICE material and their reactions can be short and long term. The degree of negative impact appears to vary markedly across individuals, types and content of material and viewing context, with variation based on individual, case-related and contextual factors both in and outside the workplace.


Internet child exploitation material Child pornography Child sexual abuse images ICE material ICE investigator reactions 



The research was funded by an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant (LP0990449) with all Australian police organisations as research partners. The authors are grateful to Dr. Rita Cauchi, all police participants and Sergeant Cameron Craig for their assistance with this project, and to Bronwen Manger for editorial assistance


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Copyright information

© Society for Police and Criminal Psychology 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martine Powell
    • 1
  • Peter Cassematis
    • 2
  • Mairi Benson
    • 1
  • Stephen Smallbone
    • 3
  • Richard Wortley
    • 4
  1. 1.School of PsychologyDeakin UniversityBurwoodAustralia
  2. 2.Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and GovernanceGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.School of Criminology and Criminal JusticeGriffith UniversityBrisbaneAustralia
  4. 4.Department of Security and Crime ScienceUniversity College LondonLondonUK

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