Tuesday, 11 June 2013

We are far too lenient with online sex offenders (JEP 11/06/2013)

Whilst reading through todays online edition of the JEP, I happened on an excellent article by Richard Heath, that impressed me so much I thought I'd include this in my newly started blog.

In this piece Richard refers to the link between viewing child abuse images/videos, and the sexually motivated murders of children, following the convictions of Stuart Hazel and Mark Bridger.
To any normal person, it seems perfectly plausible that someone who has a sexual "fetish" (for want of a better word) for children and looks at such images online, will, quite probably, eventually get bored of merely viewing these vile images or films, and go to the next step of actual sexual abuse of children.
Indeed, this seems to be further corroborated by Sunday's article in The Sun, by Jim Gamble, former Chied Executive of CEOP, who writes "a study was carried out on 155 US prisoners jailed for viewing child abuse images. At the beginning, 26 per cent admitted a physical contact offence with 75 children. By the end of the study, which used a lie detector test, 85 per cent had admitted to contact offences with 1,777 children."
These stats have been taken from page thirteen of The Butner study from 2005.
If such a link is there, it really does offer the question, why are we so lenient with offenders who make, download and share such images? It seems far to often, in the UK at least, that no matter how many images are amassed by paedophiles, all they get is a suspended sentence for a matter of months.
One case springs to mind to support this (in amongst the thousands that have escaped jail over the years), and that is the case of Toren Smith who had downloaded 94,000 (yes, ninety four thousand!!) images and videos of child abuse, and ended up with a 2 year suspended sentence, believe it or not.
Unfortunately, as well, this was also the time when I discovered that you cannot appeal against this crime as "Unduly Lenient" as per one of my previous posts, as the AGs office will not look into this crime (Although in certain circumstances the Attorney General does have the power to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal if he considers that it is unduly lenient, the power only applies to a limited number of offences.  It does not apply to  the  offences  in this case which, we understand, concern making indecent images of children.  This means that it is not possible for the Attorney General to ask the Court of Appeal to look at the sentence in  this  case)
It really is time that this crime is taken more seriously than it is currently. The only people who would search for and download these images are people who are inclined towards children, i.e. paedophiles. Once a paedo, always a paedo, there is no cure, and in my opinion, sentences should be the same for downloading child abuse images as actual child abuse. Just because they may not have sexually abused a child (yet) before being caught, does not mean they won't once released. The real crime here, is not taking this seriously enough!!
"In times of trouble leniency becomes crime." - proverb

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