Child abuse images: call for more action by police

Labour peer says it is ‘alarming’ that police lack manpower to act against individuals who download images

The government will this week be urged to explain why many people who download images of child abuse are not investigated by the police.

Labour peer Baroness Angela Smith of Basildon is to table an emergency question on Tuesday asking the government to provide information on the number of individuals who download child abuse images in the UK and how many have been charged as a result. The question comes amid fears that the police, who can track people accessing the images from their IP address, lack the manpower to take action.

Last week Peter Davies, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said that 50,000 to 60,000 people in the UK regularly downloaded images of child abuse. However, he said the police do not have the resources to take action against them. His comments follow concerns that access to such images played a part in two high-profile child murders. Mark Bridger, April Jones’s killer, and Stuart Hazell, who murdered Tia Sharp, were both heavy users of child abuse images.

“We’ve seen calls for Google to take action, but also need to ask if the authorities could be doing more,” Smith said. “If the police are aware of individuals who have downloaded images but haven’t the capacity to deal with them, that is alarming. In some cases a knock on the door may be enough to scare the living daylights out of them and stop them from viewing the images.” “In other cases the police may need to go further.” © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds