Child Protection Chief Attacked Over Paedophile Comments

A police child protection chief has been criticised for arguing that paedophiles convicted of looking at child pornography should not necessarily go to prison. Jim Gamble of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) told the BBC he believed some sex offenders should be encouraged to seek treatment rather than be threatened with jail terms.

{mosimage}Answers needed to be found outside the criminal justice system and some offenders should receive a police caution, then be managed within the community, he said. There were too many people being convicted of paedophilia to be dealt with in the criminal justice system, he added. “We shouldn’t be sending everyone that ever commits an offence – particularly of the viewing kind – to prison.”

Some offenders could be “managed” and dealt with by police caution in a way that allowed them to maintain their lives and their families. He told Radio 4’s Today programme it was time to adopt a more “intelligent posture” in tackling the problem. “(If) someone is at the beginning of the spiral of abuse, where there is evidence to indicate during the investigation that this person may well benefit from a police caution and be managed, then of course that needs to be done.”

People with a “deviant sexual interest in children” should get help before they “live out that fantasy” and are caught, he said. His remarks were attacked by Michele Elliott, director of children’s charity Kidscape, who said: “I agree with him that these people need treatment, however to treat them in the community sends a message that what they have done is not very serious. I believe that if you download child pornography, you are just as guilty as the people who are taking the photographs.

“You create a market, because you want to view child pornography, therefore a child is abused for your pleasure. As far as I am concerned, that means prison. Obviously that means different length prison sentences for different crimes, it’s more serious to download level five pornography than level one pornography, but as far as I’m concerned, there’s a child victim out there, and justice demands that you go to prison for having been involved in the abuse of a child.”

The CEOP was launched in 2006 to tackle child sex abuse in the UK.