UK’s Top Child Protection Officer: Pedophiles Shouldn’t Face Jail for Watching Child Porn
Britain’s most senior child protection police officer has justified his horrifying suggestion saying the policing system had reached “satura...
Simon Bailey, chief constable of Norfolk Constabulary and lead on child protection at the National Police Chiefs Council, has sparked outrage after proposing that pedophiles who view pornographic images of children should not face criminal charges unless they pose a physical threat to children.
In an interview with The Times, Britain’s most senior child protection police officer justified his horrifying suggestion, saying the policing system had reached “saturation point” from increasing reports of child abuse.
“The police service has to deal with an unprecedented volume of reports of non-recent abuse, ongoing abuse, online abuse, peer-to-peer abuse.
“The numbers are continuing to rise. We have reached saturation point. The police service has responded to the threat but it has now reached that point whereby we have to try and turn the tide. We have to look at alternatives.”
Since police are too busy, Bailey held that lower-level offending should be decriminalized and dealt with through counseling and rehabilitation, so the cops could focus their “limited resources” on catching the most dangerous offenders with access to children.
“Let’s be really clear: somebody going online and using their credit card to direct the abuse of a child in the Philippines should be locked up, categorically. That individual who is not in contact with children and doesn’t pose a threat to children and is looking at low-level images…
“…when you look at everything else that’s going on, and the threat that’s posed of contact abuse to children, we have to look at doing something different with those individuals. Do the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and the police have the capacity to put them into the justice system?”
Simon Bailey, head of Operation Hydrant – the nationwide inquiry into historical child sexual abuse – adds police are being overwhelmed and are operating beyond capacity.
According to Bailey, child abuse reports (risen by 80% in the last three years) have reached alarming levels in the country. The police receive more than 70,000 complaints into child sexual abuse every year, and arrest over 400 pedophiles every month for viewing child abuse images.
“How can the police service be expected to cope with all that if, in the margins, we are still having to deal with what I would describe as very, very low-risk offenders, who, based upon good risk assessments, pose little if any actual threat of contact abuse?
“Those individuals that you can say with a degree of certainty genuinely don’t pose a physical threat — that to me seems to be a reasonable line [for an alternative approach].”
Last year, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) warned that more than half a million men in the UK may have viewed/shared child sexual abuse images on the Internet. The charity added that the problem was so big it could be viewed as a ‘social emergency’.
A spokesman for the NSPCC, agreeing with Bailey that police had a huge number of cases to investigate, often with limited resources due to staggering levels of recorded child sex offenses, commented:
“Prison sentences serve a vital purpose in reflecting the severity of the crime, protecting the public, acting as a deterrent, and helping a victim see their offender deservedly brought to justice.
“But we cannot arrest our way out of the situation – if we are to stem this tide and protect more children we must make prevention and rehabilitation a priority. With the right support we can prevent offenders from abusing and help those who do harm children change their behavior.”
However, not all are convinced with Bailey’s proposal. Peter Saunders, founder and spokesman for the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, noted that it gave a green light to offenders.
“Any kind of message that gives potential abusers or abusers the opportunity to think they may get away with it is extremely unhelpful to child protection.”
Speaking on BBC Radio 4 Today on February 28, Bailey acknowledged that a lot of people would be nervous about his suggestion, yet he defended his proposal aimed at “finding a balanced and proportional response.”
“I have had conversations with colleagues across the justice system and of course there is some general nervousness.
“I can understand this is going to create and draw out some really difficult headlines but I think I would be failing in my duty if I didn’t raise the fact that as a service we are doing more than we ever have done before.”