A controversial new scheme will see police knocking on the doors of suspected paedophiles and urging them to stop viewing child pornography online.
The Mirror reports, officers will visit the homes of people they have reason to believe have downloaded or viewed indecent images of children and warn them not to do it again rather than arrest them.
Sussex Police have been the first to try out the scheme, and so far they’ve visited the homes of 24 suspected paedophiles since they began the trial in November last year. They claim the scheme allows them to prioritise their workload and combat the crimes that pose the greatest threats.
Deputy Chief Constable, Olivia Pinkney, explained officers are only visiting offenders who have broke the law by viewing child porn on very few occasions, often just once. Sussex Police locate those viewing the images using specialist surveillance trackers which trace the illegal images and the computers that view them.
The force have a dedicated unit, the Paedophile On-Line Investigation Team (POLIT), which specialising in finding offenders.
— Sussex Police (@sussex_police) February 7, 2016
Deputy Chief Constable Pinkney said:
There are people who are curious and frankly would be horrified if anybody ever knew. And we are very quick with those people when we know about them to say, ‘look, we know what you are doing, you know what you are doing and that is that.’
There are others who are downloading images, and then there is contact offending. It is all really awful and it is about where the threat and the harm is on that continuum and that is where we try and judge where our intervention is.
Sometimes we can intervene very quickly and say, ‘stop doing that, we saw you did that once.’We know children have been harmed in the beginning, so it is not ok.
We don’t argue that because someone has not harmed a child, they are just looking at it, that’s safe. Of course it is not safe – that child was harmed. So we don’t look at it lightly.
A spokesman for children’s charity NSPCC explained how in 2012 just five police forces in England and Wales had confiscated a disgusting 26 million child porn images.
The truly awful thing is that more and more children are being abused so these pictures can be produced and once in circulation they may stay there for many years.
We know police forces are sometimes overwhelmed by these investigations but we want a strong message to go to offenders with appropriate sentencing.
Donald Findlater, from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation child protection charity, said it made sense for police to focus their resources on the most dangerous individuals.
Although he did add that society should be concerned about low-level offenders as they may develop a stronger interest on children and act on it.