20 October 2014
The NCA Director General commented today that a wider debate is needed on how the UK manages offenders accessing indecent images of children online.
The CEOP threat assessment 2013 estimated that there are around 50,000 people in the UK viewing indecent images.
Whilst this is an intelligence assessment of the number of people involved in this type of offending, and does not relate to known individuals, the problem of indecent images of children online is growing.
Mr Bristow said “I personally, and my colleagues across law enforcement, find this behaviour abhorrent. All of us would like to see these people in court and we are determined to bring as many to justice as we possibly can.
“Our duty as law enforcement officers is to ensure we are focusing on the highest risk: work through it in a logical way, target the most risky first. There is going to have to be a range of interventions which might fall short, for some of the lower risk offenders, of them standing in court.”
The NCA’s approach is to immediately risk assess every referral it receives and then prioritise the action against it. Highest priority is given to cases where there is a threat to the life of a child or an immediate risk of abuse.
Mr Bristow stressed this did not mean accepting that abuse can continue without intervention. As well as pursuing the highest risk offenders, the NCA is involved in activity to prevent offences taking place and enable young people to better protect themselves.
He also said that the debate, and the response to it, needed to go beyond law enforcement:
“The wider responsibility that falls to all of us is to stop people getting involved in this activity, to help young people protect themselves and to work hard to understand the totality of the problem so where we are arresting people and bringing them to justice that’s mitigating as much risk to young people as possible”.