According to West Midlands Police chief constable Dave Thompson, the number of men now looking at indecent images and videos of children is “horrifying,” and so high, in fact, that it would be “impossible” to charge them all.
Chief Thompson has warned that officers are now “losing control” of the problem and suggested that a “big discussion” was needed in society about the issue.
Thompson has recommended a new “naming and shaming” policy for offenders that may offer more of a deterrent than a prosecution.
Simon Bailey, the head of child protection for the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC), on the other hand, has suggested that pedophiles who view or trade in child pornography should not be taken to court or even charged unless they pose a “physical threat” to children.
Daily Mail reports: The chief constable was speaking at a meeting of the Home Affairs Committee inquiry into policing for the future. At the inquiry, Tory MP Tim Loughton asked about suggestions that there should be alternative prosecutions for those guilty of viewing indecent images, with those in denial unlikely to be receptive to treatment.
Mr. Thompson said: “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 – the amount of men in this country who appear to show an active interest in this 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.”
“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.”The area of online activity is just breathtaking … there’s a big conversation that needs to be had about it.
“Seeing prosecution as the answer to this is not going to be an answer on its own.”
Gareth Morgan, chief constable of Staffordshire Police, said prosecuting those who look at indecent images should not be based on whether or not police forces have the resources.
“It has to be based on judgments that a range of people make, not just the police service,” he told MPs.
“And that’s about how you best manage the risk of an offender going forward so there’s a range of options, and I think that’s a decision that you take with a range of partners, not just the police on their own.”
And from my perspective, that should never be driven by a resourcing issue because that’s not the right reason to make the decision and it’s certainly not taking the issue seriously.”