Calls for tougher action against paedophiles as eight in 10 found with indecent images of children avoid jail

13 December 2023, 17:54 | Updated: 14 December 2023, 12:30

Calls for tougher action agains paedophiles have been made
Calls for tougher action agains paedophiles have been made. Picture: Alamy
Charlotte Lynch

By Charlotte Lynch

The head of the National Crime Agency has called for more paedophiles found with indecent images of children to be jailed, revealing 80% of those convicted are spared custodial sentences.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Director General Graeme Biggar told reporters he found it "striking" that so many predators who view child sexual abuse material do not go to prison, and that locking them up was necessary to "get them off the streets and stop the offending".

Mr Biggar said it's rare that offenders are caught with a handful of images and videos, explaining that they're often in the thousands, with many of those depicting the worst kind of abuse imaginable.

Read more: Teacher, 61, killed after being charged by cow three times and tossed over a gate in front of horrified family

It came as he urged the Home Office to introduce new laws aimed at jailing the creators of dark-web platforms which host the material.

Speaking alongside Mr Biggar, Director General of Operations Rob Jones criticised the "false idea" that the offenders are "just viewing" child sex abuse images, saying it's highly likely they are committing physical contact offences.

Mr Jones said: "These platforms are very secure, and for some, they won't let you in unless you provide a new child abuse image. This means a child could be abused purely so someone can access one of these sites".

He claimed the online world is "underplayed" within the criminal justice system, saying it and the real world are now "one continuum - it's all one world for victims and survivors".

Director General Biggar acknowledged that the UK's prisons are "pretty full to capacity", but said the debate about which offenders should be incarcerated or allowed to serve suspended sentences should be had away from the sphere of child sexual abuse.

Read more: Gaynor Lord: Timeline of missing mum's disappearance as CCTV of last known movements released

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show 2,087 people were convicted of taking, distributing, publishing or possessing indecent or prohibited images of children in 2022. Of these 29% (609) received a custodial sentence.

The NCA has been lobbying the Home Office to create a new offence of running a child sexual abuse website, so the people "at the heart" of the system can be jailed for longer.

Mr Biggar and Mr Jones expressed their frustration that those facilitating the platforms and "creating misery" for children "aren't getting the sentence they deserve".

It is possible to convict website moderators for possessing and sharing indecent images, but the NCA said a more specific crime written in to law would allow them to catch offenders more easily and ensure they face longer jail terms.

The NCA estimates there are between 680,000-830,000 adults in the UK that pose some degree of sexual risk to children. This is equivalent to 1.3%-1.6% of the UK adult population.

A government spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling all forms of child sexual abuse. “The police’s response to child sexual abuse has been strengthened with targeted investment and activity to bring offenders to justice which has led to an estimated 1,000 children safeguarded or protected every month.

“We have also increased sentences for sexual offenders, whilst continuously reviewing sentencing outcomes to ensure we are doing all we can to protect children from this vile abuse.”

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Jay Slater had travelled to the Canary Islands for a music festival

Spanish police reject help from Lancashire Constabulary as desperate search for missing Brit Jay Slater continues

Kemi Badenoch has warned that Labour will reverse Brexit

Keir Starmer will 'reverse Brexit' if Labour wins election, Kemi Badenoch warns

Jay Slater had travelled to the Canary Islands for a music festival

Owner of flat where missing Brit Jay Slater was staying in Tenerife spotted him 'walking fast' up dangerous ravine

Labour is said to be drafting options for wealth taxes

Labour 'draws up plans for wealth taxes' in bid to 'unlock' funds for public services

Nigel Farage said that the West had provoked Putin into invading Ukraine

'We gave Putin an excuse': Nigel Farage says the West provoked Russia into invading Ukraine

Just Stop Oil plans major disruption to summer holidays with private jet stunt just the start

Two charged after Just Stop Oil protesters sprayed private jets with orange paint at Stansted Airport

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak

Tories raise less than £300k in second week of election campaign, as over three-quarters of all donations go to Labour

File photo of passengers boarding an Easyjet plane

Chaos as Easyjet kicks 26 men off flight headed from the UK to Portugal for 'disruptive behaviour'

Bardia Shojeifard

'Outwardly normal' teen killer with 'worrying interest in knives' posed with huge blade before murdering Alfie Lewis, 15

Police were called to a property at Shorncliffe Road shortly after 3pm on Sunday

Pictured: Baby girl mauled to death in Coventry dog attack at family home

Public schoolboy guilty of attempted murder after vicious clawhammer attack on sleeping staff and students ahead of 'zombie apocalypse'

Public schoolboy obsessed by 'zombie apocalypse' guilty of claw hammer attack on sleeping staff and students

PC Idominik Efeotor raised the issue at the annual State of London debate

'The people who investigate the officers are the problem’: Black Met officer hits out at disproportionate treatment in disciplinary process

Salisbury Novichok victim Dawn Sturgess

Former spy and daughter may give evidence at Salisbury poisonings inquiry

Rishi Sunak has urged voters not to let Labour 'waltz into office'

'Don't let Labour waltz into office', Sunak tells voters as Brits may not 'ever' be able to get them out of power

Exclusive
Starmer says eco mob 'needs to feel the full force of the law' as he slams 'pathetic' Just Stop Oil

Starmer says 'pathetic' eco mob 'needs to feel the full force of the law' as two charged for private jet stunt

The M6

Drivers face misery as major motorway closed for three days next week, sending cars on 90 minute diversion