The downloading of indecent images of children is an extremely serious offence and almost inevitably the court will consider a prison sentence. The court takes the view that if people did not view the images there would be no need for people to take the pictures and videos.
If you share indecent images with other people, then you commit the offence of distribution which is more serious. The sentencing guidelines for these types of offences vary depending on the nature and number of images that are found.
Usually, the start of any investigation will be the police attending your house and removing any electronic equipment that they suspect may contain images. The items will then be examined by specialists and any incriminating items will be downloaded. There will then be a usually lengthy interview, where you will be asked to account for any images. It is vital that you get advice at the start of the investigation.