Child-porn images so widespread, police can’t prosecute everyone – chief constable
A “horrifying” number of people in Britain are viewing child sexual abuse images online, a police chief has warned amid suggestions that pedophiles who view indecent images should not be charged unless they pose a physical threat to children.
Society needs to discuss the issue, which is about “much more than law enforcement,” Dave Thompson, chief constable of West Midlands Police, told the House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.
“I am staggered by what I see in terms of the operations the force carries out on the peer-to-peer sharing of images and more sensitive covert policing techniques we carry out,” he said, according to The Guardian.
“The amount of men in this country who appear to show an active interest in his area is horrifying and the scale of it, I think, takes my breath away.
“There is a really big discussion I think, as a society, about how we deal with this, that’s much more than law enforcement. Of course, it makes us all feel deeply uncomfortable to think that people who have that involvement in those activities should in any shape or form escape punishment. But the scale of it is just absolutely huge,” added Thompson.
The National Crime Agency estimated in 2015 that there were up to 750,000 men in Britain who were interested in having sex with children. This suggests that as many as one in every 35 adult males is on the pedophile spectrum.
A 2016 study by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) also suggested that the number of individuals looking at child porn in Britain could exceed half a million.
At the committee meeting, Thompson was asked by Tory MP Tim Loughton whether there should be alternative prosecutions for those found guilty of viewing indecent images.
The chief constable replied: “I think if people are in denial that they’ve got a problem, then we need to be really careful that treatment might not work, but I think the broader issue that’s being raised is this is a massive challenge, I think, that goes far beyond policing.”
Gareth Morgan, the chief constable of Staffordshire Police, told the meeting that the decision to prosecute those who view explicit images of children should not be based on whether police have the resources.
Thompson’s comments came after Simon Bailey, the National Police Chief’s Council (NPCC) lead for child protection, suggested that pedophiles who view indecent images but do not molest children should not be taken to court.
Britain’s only nationwide agency tasked with offering treatment to pedophiles before they become child molesters, the Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending (StopSO), is on the brink of closure due to a lack of funding.
Its founder, Juliet Grayson, told RT earlier this year that working with perpetrators to reduce the occurrence of sexual abuse against children is more effective than “trying to constantly pick up the pieces after the abuse has happened.”