Amount of men with in­ter­est in child sex abuse is hor­ri­fy­ing’

CHIEF CON­STA­BLE CALLS FOR DE­BATE OVER COUN­SELLING

Solihull News - - LETTERS & EMAILS SOCIETY NEWS - JONATHAN WALKER jon. walker@ trin­i­tymir­ror. com

See­ing pros­e­cu­tion as an an­swer to this is not go­ing to be the an­swer on its own. I am stag­gered by what I see in terms of the op­er­a­tions the force car­ries out. CHIEF CON­STA­BLE DAVE THOMP­SON

THE West Mid­lands’ most se­nior po­lice of­fi­cer has called for a de­bate on whether some peo­ple who look at child sex abuse images on­line should be of­fered coun­selling in­stead of fac­ing pros­e­cu­tion.

Dave Thomp­son, who be­came Chief Con­sta­ble in Jan­uary last year, says there needs to be “a big con­ver­sa­tion” about whether the prob­lem can be solved by sim­ply pun­ish­ing every of­fender.

“The amount of men in this coun­try who ap­pear to show an ac­tive in­ter­est in this area is hor­ri­fy­ing,” he said.

“The scale of it takes my breath away.”

But he warned: “There is a re­ally big dis­cus­sion, I think, as a so­ci­ety about how you deal with this, that’s much broader than law en­force­ment.

“Of course it makes us all deeply un­com­fort­able to think that peo­ple who have that view and en­gage in those ac­tiv­i­ties should in any shape or form es­cape punishment.

“But the scale of it is ab­so­lutely huge.”

Mr Thomp­son was speak­ing to MPs on the Com­mons Home Af­fairs Com­mit­tee, which is con­duct­ing an in­quiry into the fu­ture of polic­ing.

He was asked whether he agreed with Si­mon Bai­ley, the Chief Con­sta­ble of Nor­folk Po­lice and the Na­tional Po­lice Chiefs’ Coun­cil lead for child pro­tec­tion, who has sug­gested that pae­dophiles who view in­de­cent images should not be charged or taken to court un­less they pose a phys­i­cal threat to chil­dren.

Some who view the images should in­stead be of­fered coun­selling and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, said Mr Bai­ley. Mr Thomp­son told MPs: “There is a big con­ver­sa­tion needs to be had about that. See­ing pros­e­cu­tion as an an­swer to this is not go­ing to be the an­swer on its own.

“I am stag­gered by what I see in terms of the op­er­a­tions the force car­ries out,” he added. “The area of on­line ac­tiv­ity is just breath­tak­ing.

“Ev­ery­thing, as a po­lice of­fi­cer and a par­ent, says that we need to do some­thing ur­gently to de­ter peo­ple in this area.

“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 that this is a mas­sive chal­lenge, I think, that goes far be­yond polic­ing.”

Chief Con­sta­ble Dave Thomp­son

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