Simon Bailey is not soft on sex crime: we should listen to what he has to say about those who view indecent child images

The Chief Constable of Norfolk, Simon Bailey, says that men who view indecent images of children should not face prosecution unless they pose a risk to actual children. The reason, he says, is that officers are simply overwhelmed with child abuse cases, with over 70,000 reported every year, and an estimate – though how one estimates such a thing I have no idea – of an extra 40,000 such cases likely to arise out of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse. The police, he said last year, were spending £1 billion a year on prosecuting sex cases, a figure which he predicted could rise to £3 billion by 2020.

Instead of prosecution, and in cases where there is no obvious threat to any children, Mr Bailey advocates arrest and treatment by way of “counselling and rehabilitation” instead of punishment. Such men could, he suggests, be placed on the Sex Offenders Register but they would not need to face a court.

Mr Bailey knows what he is talking about. He is the head of Operation Hydrant, the national body responsible for co-ordinating investigations into “historic” sex cases. He is no sex-crime softie. He recently crossed swords with Sir Richard Henriques whose report into the bungled Operation Midland investigation of Lord Bramall and others criticised him over the official Hydrant guidance that required all sex crime complainants to be referred to as “victims.” Under Hydrant’s overall guidance police have regularly brought the sick and the very old to court for offences committed decades earlier. Only last week another centenarian was ordered to appear before the Aylesbury Crown Court to answer allegations going back to the 1970s. Wiltshire police are even investigating the long dead Ted Heath. So gung-ho were investigations becoming that the CPS felt the need to issue the extraordinary guidance that:

since deceased persons cannot be prosecuted, the CPS will not make a charging decision in respect of a suspect who is deceased.”

On the other hand, this is not the first time Mr Bailey has called for those who “merely” view indecent images to be treated as in need of help rather than punishment. In December 2014 he suggested something very similar, pointing out that the majority of those who viewed such images were unlikely to go on actually to abuse children.

He is to be congratulated for his courage in opening up a debate in an area in which to depart from the orthodoxy is to invite a torrent of obloquy.

The fact is, that in the seamy world of indecent images of children, there are degrees of nastiness. At one end of the scale lie truly disgusting images procured by almost unimaginable child abuse. Depravity of the most appalling kind is perpetrated on children and then filmed or photographed: as part of my legal work I have seen the results, and it never fails to shock. Anyone involved in the production of such material deserves, and usually gets, very long sentences indeed. At the other end of the scale lie sixteen and seventeen year olds sexting each other with technically illegal images, but in circumstances far removed from child abuse. Such youngsters are in fact unlikely to face prosecution, although the line separating adolescent foolishness from criminality is sometimes a little blurred. Nevertheless, this is one reason why the glib phrase “child abuse images” can be misleading. Indecent images of children are not necessarily images of child abuse, although of course they very often are.

Nor should anyone underestimate the harm caused by the distribution of such images. It is easy to imagine the distress that anyone, let alone a child, would feel to learn that pornographic images of themselves are being distributed in vast numbers around unknown internet users. There is a clear policing objective in trying to stop such traffic.

The vast majority of those prosecuted over possession of indecent images will have had nothing to do with the initial production of the pictures. Very often the defendant will be a man with no previous convictions, no history of sexual misconduct and in many cases posing no obvious threat to children at all. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (“CEOP”) suggests that the typical user of child pornography may be educated and intelligent and “well integrated into society.” In some cases he may have paid to receive the images, more often he will simply have searched for them, or perhaps swapped them with like-minded users. The discovery of his vice will ruin him, quite aside from any punishment that a court may impose. Some of them will go on to commit “contact offences” against children; but many will not.

It is to this group – those that view and download but do not produce or distribute, and who are not in close contact with children – that Mr Bailey’s proposal is directed. At a time when reports of sex crime are close to overwhelming the police, is there another way to deal with people who would probably never harm a child directly, but who are addicted to viewing child pornography?

It is all very well to insist that the police should prosecute everybody found in possession of illegal images, but even if it were desirable it is wholly impractical. It simply cannot happen. What is more, the attempt to do so is bound to draw resources away from other policing duties, including, critically, the protection of children at imminent risk of actual “contact abuse.”

Whenever some wretched individual is prosecuted for the possession of indecent images of children the most common response is to assert that the perpetrator is “sick.” Somewhat inconsistently however, those making the diagnosis tend to advocate long jail sentences which, it is said, are the only appropriate treatment for perverts. It is an odd way to treat the sick because one of the few things that we know for sure is that very little in the way of therapeutic treatment will take place when men are imprisoned for these offences. Once they are released they will not be reformed, and they will almost certainly have less to lose than before they were sent to prison in the first place. Imprisonment, as so often, will have failed to deter and failed to reform, and will have done so at great expense.

Mr Bailey’s proposal has many difficulties: “treatment” of paedophilia may not even be possible – although teaching techniques to control it probably is. “Counselling” seems a lame and inadequate response to the problem. It is far from clear what he means by “rehabilitation,” or who would be responsible for organising it; the most obvious candidate would be the Probation Service, which is itself struggling under unprecedented financial pressures.

It is very easy to denounce paedophilia and demand severe punishment for paedophiles; no-one ever made themselves unpopular by doing so. Yet when public feeling runs so strongly in one direction it is particularly important that policy makers at least consider alternative voices. Can we afford to prosecute men who pose no significant risk? The Chief Constable’s suggestion that prosecution is not the complete answer to a pernicious problem is too important to be simply howled down. It needs to be taken extremely seriously.

After all, if Mr Bailey is right, to ignore him would be a huge betrayal of our children.

This piece originally appeared in a slightly different form in the Daily Telegraph on March 1st 2017

Author: Matthew

I have been a barrister for over 25 years, specialising in crime. You may also have come across some of my articles I have written on legal issues for The Times, Standpoint, Daily Telegraph or Criminal Law & Justice Weekly

31 thoughts on “Simon Bailey is not soft on sex crime: we should listen to what he has to say about those who view indecent child images”

  1. This is such a highly emotive subject where those who often hysterically call for harsh sentences or even worse can also be undermining the genuine protection of children. There is not just 15 or 16 year old’s texting or even posting images or film of themselves on the net, it can be children as young as 10.
    The fact is policing and the general public have either not caught up to the times or are ignorant of the role the internet, computers and mobile phones play in the life of children.
    The message always being sent is that those who are arrested are part of some huge conspiracy to produce and distribute illicit images or film when there is now a huge worldwide ‘market ‘ of young people who are inadvertently aiding the trade by distributing self-produced material. I think the amateurishly produced material these days may be far greater than commercially produced material. It would be terrible to start prosecuting these children even if they are breaking the law but this surely means parents have not realised just how potent & powerful the internet is in the life of children and teens, and how youngsters find it so easy to reach out to others and can soon find themselves caught up in an horrendous trade where they themselves have no idea what is going on.
    Police, politicians and parents seem oblivious to the reality of this and seem to just accept a tabloid newspaper presentation that labels all who view images as ‘dirty old perverts’. Ignoring the reality of the 1000s of websites that now allow self cams so teens and even children to talk to each other -complete strangers – is not helping police the matter. Very young people are now aware of the ‘dark net’ or dubious entities like the ‘chan’ sites that come & go on a regular basis. The fact parents and even police do not monitor these sites is alarming just as they seem ignorant that Facebook. Twitter and Youtube also inadvertently allows illicit material; to be published and while they will remove it- after much delay (little responsibility there) we all know once something appears on the net- it is out there forever.
    Simon Bailey is correct to at least say there should be a new approach- I think a task force that examines every single aspect of illicit child material that takes into account that children themselves are part of the problem and to ignore this fact is to inadvertently aid the trade.
    # one notion that should be dispensed with is the repeated claim that once an image appears on the net, the child who it may be of can now accept their “life has been ruined”. This is a terrible way to treat what are victims even if they made themselves a victim without realising it. Fortunately with the passage of time as people grow, trying to identify a child’s image with them as an adult is almost impossible.
    This is not to underplay the reality of a terrible trade in child abuse images but to keep telling people who are the victims of abuse, or may be in the future that “their life will be ruined” is a form of abuse in itself.

    1. Given that this whole area is a “closed shop”, with only the cops and the criminals having the faintest idea what all the fuss is about, I think society (if it exists) is just being played like a fish. Perceptions of what is “disgusting” can vary so much that it’s hard to see much of consistency in any of this stuff.

      You say, “There is not just 15 or 16 year old’s texting or even posting images or film of themselves on the net, it can be children as young as 10.” so where is the “abuse” here? They post images of themselves. It may be deemed obscene and improper and thus illegal, but the core of the law-making on Images was always predicated on people being forced to make those images and other people proifting from the viewers purchasing of those images.

      I have read bits about mysterious dark-net chat rooms but there seems no clarity as to whether these are as cogent as the mythical “snuff movie” culture.

      Real Snuff Movies first became available of course via the 1992 Kuwait war and all those “smart missiles”. The Taliban took it a step further with their head-sawing.

      I could say more, but not sure anyone wants to have a proper conversation about any of this mess.

      1. I agree that no one wants any non-hysterical discussions about this topic. The mere mention of indecent images makes minds close off to any rational discussion.
        Long gone are the days when you actually had to go out of your way to find these images. Don’t believe all the ‘dark net’ hype, you can be pilloried for visiting websites sourced through google, websites the police disapprove of, they are not our moral guardians, they uphold the law, end of.
        The images considered ‘indecent’ can be no more than you’ll find in any mainstream media source but under the microscope of ‘indecency’ they take on a more sinister form. The police know this and are putting innocent men and their families through hell.
        I would welcome more open discussion and pray for the day when journalists ask more questions of the statements released by the police and the authorities.

    2. If, say, a “child” takes photos of their own “dangly bits” for entirely innocent, perhaps medical, reasons, without even the intention of broadcasting, or even showing, them to anyone else, and they are subsequently arrested for something, and the phone’s contents accessed, presumably they have been “caught with indecent images of a child in their possession”?!

      1. Tricky question, not least because it depends to some extent on the charge selected. There is a confusing smorgasbrod of possible charges.

        The long (and still not complete) answer is this:

        Under S.62 of the Coroners & Justice Act 2009 an indecent image of a child is one which is:

        (a) pornographic;
        (b) falls within subsection (6)
        (c) is grossly offensive, disgusting or otherwise of an obscene nature.

        Subsection (6) applies if the picture either focuses “solely or principally” on a child’s anal or genital area, or depicts a child involved in various defined sexual acts or circumstances.

        But note that it’s not enough to be within subsection (6), it must still be “pornographic” and “grossly offensive etc…”

        “Pornographic” is deefined as being of “such a nature that it must reasonably be assumed to have been produced solely or principally for the purpose of sexual arousal.”

        Your example of a child taking pictures for medical purposes might come within subsection (6) but arguably it would not be a pornographic picture (although of course that might not be apparent from the picture itself.

        To cater for this possiblity there is S.64 (1) (a) which creates a defence of having a “legitimate reason” for possessiong the picture. In your example it would be for the child to prove the legimitate reason on the balance of probability (a lower standard than the criminal standard of proof).

        However, this is not the only statute which creates the offence of possession of indecent images of children.

        See also S.1 of the Protection of Children Act 1978 (offence to make, distribute etc “indecent photographs of children” – “making” includes downloading incidentally -), and S.160 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 where the issue is whether the image is “indecent” but the test is objective (ie the motive of the taker of the “maker” of the image is irrelevant). Again there is a “legitimate reason” defence to both charges.

        The short answer is that if your hypothetical child takes photos of himself for an innocent purpose he is not guilty of any offence.

  2. “Mr Bailey’s proposal has many difficulties: “treatment” of paedophilia may not even be possible – although teaching techniques to control it probably is. “Counselling” seems a lame and inadequate response to the problem. It is far from clear what he means by “rehabilitation,” or who would be responsible for organising it; the most obvious candidate would be the Probation Service, which is itself struggling under unprecedented financial pressures. ”
    This is the nub of the issue in providing treatment based conditional cautions for low level offenders. Mr Bailey cites the Lucy Faithfull Foundation as being appropriate – they run group courses for internet offenders. They are self-funded – ie the offender pays. LFF was implicated by the Wass report in whipping up a false abuse scandal in St Helena with the LFF author of the flawed confidential report leaking it to a social worker under disciplinary proceedings who then passed it to the Daily Mail.

    It’s one of those rare gems of a report uncovering the mechanics and self-interested zeal of some purported ‘experts’ in the field.

    The difficulty in the proposal though is that the offer of a ‘conditional caution’ with treatment as opposed to a criminal charge would inevitably snare the innocent as well as the guilty. The history of internet investigations is littered with presumptions and stings from Operation Ore, which incriminated through credit card fraud, to Operation Playpen – an FBI hack resulting in massive distribution of illegal images by the FBI itself which has resulted in a number of false charges in the UK.

    Thus it is reasonable to assume that part of the overload is caused by the proliferation of false positives created, in part, by the investigators themselves.

    While there are depraved people who intentionally download and share illegal images – usually backed up with chat room evidence – there are many people ensnared accidentally through viral contamination, re-direct, drive by etc.

    Typically such people will not have a history of relevant offending or corroborative evidence and the evidence of images downloaded will not indicate whether they were ever viewed or known to have been present never mind intentionally sought.

    When people are arrested through the sting operations – whereby intentional malware captures identifying criteria of suspects – they may be told that images have been found on their devices and that they must have downloaded them intentionally. Given the difficulty of ‘proving innocence’ the shame,cost (even legally aided) and risk of defending it may be all too tempting to agree to a ‘conditional caution’ and ten sessions in group therapy at their own expense (£700) when entirely innocent. But such a compromise would not be without consequence for their lives and reputations. They would be on the sex-offender register and this would be disclosed to prospective relevant employers and would certainly prejudice them in a wide variety of potential public and private circumstances. Furthermore the treatment would induce overwhelming pressure to admit to whatever was said to have been done and the reasons – on pain of the conditional caution being revoked.

    It may be that genuine offenders can be helped through such means – but the likelihood is the majority would not be considered suitable for the caution-treatment scheme. Furthermore the term ‘paedophile’ is a not a useful umbrella term for the vast array of sexual pornographic interests that might be indicated (extreme images would also qualify which might include violent SM adult images, bestiality etc).

    Teen sexting on the other hand might be a hormanal fad, or the mark of an evolving dangerous deviant – if the former it might just be something they grow out of, whereas if the latter, a group treatment programme is unlikely to deter and may in fact only provide a false sense of security as has happened in, thankfully rare, cases where young offenders have been ‘cleared’ after treatment only to go on to commit sexual murders.

    So I would be doubly cautious about Mr Bailey’s proposal where the only certainty is more jobs for the sex abuse industry.

    1. Thanks for your characteristically interesting comment, Margaret.

      Just on the subject of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation: Yes they made a horrendous mess in St Helena. On the other hand I had a client a year or two back – a very young man- who had self-referred himself to the LFF after he realised his online child pornography viewing was out of control. He found them very helpful. There are very few other organisations prepared to help at all.

      1. Yes I’m sure they have grateful clients.
        On the other hand it bothers me when the police, after interviewing someone protesting innocence of sex offences say – ‘ this can be very traumatic I know, so here is a LFF contact for you to speak to if you need to talk about it’. LFF would assume ‘denial’ and might try and inch them towards admission. Accused people can be very suggestible which is why PACE governs police interviews.

        I know of a case where a therapist (don’t know if it was LFF) on a police referral told someone that he would have been downloading and watching child porn without being able to remember it (trance logic). Fortunately he did not accept this and left the therapist. Eventually the case was dropped re reliability of evidence.

        I don’t think the police should refer people to LFF or the like unless they have already admitted guilt.

  3. I think most of these so-called paedophiles look at this stuff out of mere curiosity. I think too that no one should be prosecuted for downloading anything that can be found on Google but that the people who post the images should be sanctioned heavily.

    Ironically if you want to view really horrific images all you have to key in is DEAD PALESTINIAN CHILDREN. The worst porn you could wish to see brought to you free and legal in collaboration with the Israeli Government. And nobody sees the irony of it.

    1. strangely enough, Marine Le Pen has just had her immunity from preosecution lifted on the basis she tweeted such images. It’s all a bit counter-intuitive to the received wisdoms, given her father’s well-known predilictions in the Semite sags.

      On a legal note, and wandering way off-topic I wonder what our English “Magna Carta” law host makes of the continetal system whereby politicians even have “legal immunity” in the first place.

  4. The biggest problem Mr Bailey has is that there are too many people who believe the only suitable treatment for sex offenders (especially those who’ve offended against children) is execution. I’ve seen comments saying exactly that on the Guardian website this week. It seems that large portions of ‘society’ would sooner forgive a murderer than someone who had viewed images of children.
    I have an interest in this subject as I have done my time. I spent time in prison without any form of treatment and it wasn’t until my release on licence that I was able to participate in a “treatment programme”, which gave me the tools to help me ensure I don’t reoffend. Unfortunately I can’t see the government committing the needed funds to widen such programmes, even though the numbers being convicted keep going up.

    1. Speaking as a non-offender but who happily remains anonymous for obvious reasons too, the issue of an escalating need for new kicks is not a human phenomenon restricted to pornography, and the psychological existence of the way the human brain can work, lies behind most of the “war on drugs” rationale too. Aother war that seems to have been largely futile in the end, and a peace in America now sems underway on a state by state basis, without any hysterical condemnation in the UK mass media.

        1. @Margaret Jervis
          I did mull over phrasing that as “unconvicted”, but felt that might be deemed an admission of guilt at some time in the future, and held against me in a court of law.

        2. “Wow! A ‘non-offender’ speaks! Are you sure? Speaking as a human being.”

          One does have to wonder.

          It does seem to me that a human being with access to the net is at a high risk of falling foul of the UK regulations and/or police enforcement thereof, particularly if they are of the male gender….Led Zeppelin album covers, paintings by Graham Ovenden or Balthus…etc….where does it end and what is the differentiation between art and child abuse imagery?

          1. I was being a bit more generalist/philosophical in that none of us are ‘innocent’ of something that is either morally censorable or criminal. We are human beings FFS. We are all ‘offenders’. Specific charges are another matter.

  5. A timely blog, Matthew. Thank you. The UK will soon have to consider emptying prisons of all but murderers and sexual offenders as there will be no room for anyone else. One other problem is that police are under such pressure corners may well be cut to bring about evidence for guilty verdicts. On top of this the police have to keep a track of offenders by way of the S O Register. I am sure this will become increasingly impossible if only because of numbers.

    As you know, FACT is currently concerned about the IICSA, which you have commented on in your article. May I include extracts of my letter, written on behalf of FACT, to various individuals and organisations, flagging up something which I doubt has been considered?

    F.A.C.T. 83 Ducie Street, MANCHESTER M1 2JQ

    Dear …


    As the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) chaired by Alexis Jay begins to receive evidence, I have been asked to voice the concerns of FACT and other organisations representing the wrongfully accused.

    The cases being investigated are mostly historic and therefore many of the (in some cases ‘alleged’) perpetrators of CSA are going to be either dead or back living within the community having served their sentences. FACT is concerned about the latter group who could be ‘outed’ by the public nature of this inquiry and as a result of follow-on stories in the media. It cannot be stated enough that this could put them and their families in extreme danger.

    We doubt that this has been considered in the planning of the IICSA but we feel it right that we impress upon all who may be involved in the Inquiry in the strongest terms that lives may well be put at risk. Some who have been the subject of allegations may be completely innocent of any crime for there have been terrible miscarriages of justice in the past, as noted in Dr Ros Burnett’s recently publish book: “Wrongful Allegations of Sexual and Child Abuse” (OUP 2016). This contains startling arguments by leading academics, lawyers, psychologists and criminologists.

    I would add that, in my experience of dealing professionally with the abused, not all will be able to cope with a constant reminder of their suffering by way of the media…something they will have to face over the coming five years. It is right that the failures of government and relevant organisations be examined but it must not be at the expense of real victims of CSA, of other innocent people and of those who have served their sentences and now live lawfully back in society. Nor should we offer closure to victims of CSA by merely giving them the opportunity for revenge. As you will know, vengeance is a negative response that rarely offers freedom from the past.

    Not long ago disabled refugee Bijan Ebrahimi was brutally murdered outside of his home in Bristol. His murderers presumed he was a paedophile (see: Given the present climate this could well happen to those whose names are made public directly or indirectly by the IICSA.


    I hope some readers of this blog feel encouraged to write to their MPs, to the IICSA and/or to Amber Rudd making similar points.

  6. Mr.Simon Bailey in supporting the concept that we ‘let off’ those who have offended (proven with evidence), adds sucker to the ‘no smoke without fire’ pedlars. They will assume that every person arrested, is now guilty and the individuals will not be given the opportunity to see justice in a court. Especially if they are innocent.

    As one of the individuals found to have ‘insufficient evidence to proceed to a prosecution’ (nothing found), when an arrest was determined as unlawful in the first instance and was removed from PNC (under exceptional case procedures), as instructed by a Chief Constable and then all ‘locally’ retained computer data was removed from two forces (by two Chief Constables) I have become more vulnerable as a result of this consideration by Mr.Simon Bailey.

    Fighting the battle to clear my name from a ‘false allegation’ and restore some honour and dignity, has been lengthy, hard and emotional. The Police have accepted my innocence and their mistakes. All I will need to do now is convince the 63,000,000 ‘Joe Public’ that I have not been subject to some generosity of the CPS or Mr.Simon Bailey as I become part of the pool of those ‘let off’, rather than entirely innocent collateral damage.

  7. Hi Matthew

    Sorry for barging in on this comment thread with a request to give your opinion on a not altogether unconnected issue, that of whether google and other online platforms should be charged if it is easily possible to eradicate child sexual abuse images (see the hashing comment below others at Others are wondering whether defamation class actions taken out against individuals that have reposted material and are harassing people in a case that was put to bed, legally speaking, long ago. And yet the continuing proliferation of the images of the children associated with the Hampstead case continues. Ella Gareeva-Draper and Abraham Christie are still on the run, probably in Spain where their recent attempts to reinvigorate and associate the case with Pizzagate alongside concurrently run crowdfunding appeals (which have thankfully been shut down after reaching £3000 (kidnap of the children concerned after a ‘human search engine’ type operation by loonies finds them has been suggested by several of the leaders of the loony brigade). The children’s images are all over the internet now, much more than before, and after some were removed, people have simply re-uploaded them. If YT has software that can filter out and ban such uploads, are they acting negligently. Reports are made, videos flagged, but often the response of the host is that these illegal postings do not contravene their community safety standards…..despite the high court gagging orders being in place.

    The question is one of ‘what can we do’ to stop the images and further abuse which continues, of whether it would be viable to try to sue Youtube, google etc, I am sure there is much evidence available from those that complained but whose concerns have not been responded to appropriately. The question is also relevant right now, in part due to a deluge of recently re-uploaded police/home videos of the children which comes at a time when online advertisers are pulling out of advertising on platforms that associate their brands with offensive material. I suppose I am asking for your advice on what action you would recommend to the people who are still being affected by this case, if at all.

    One commenter on the blog asked what might happen if the children are recognised by their school friends when they see them come up in their yt feed under their suggestions, and the devastating impact this would have on them. It is time for the giants to take responsibility and act like ethical entities. Many thanks, Matthew.

      1. There are big issues here as outlined in the comments section of the following post

        “So Woodward coming out after he had been sacked accorded not only with the Guardian’s over-riding politically correct priorities but also Woodward’s – as a get out of jail card. Because who is going to look too closely into an alleged victim wrapped round with the mantle of abuse survivor? Not one of our community cohesion obsessed plod forces, or indeed the national MSM that’s for sure – and most especially not the Guardian”

        For the same base diversionary motives the BBC and SYP orchestrated a raid on Sir Cliff’s home – entirely coincidentally just days before the Jay Report was published.

        And who can forget the crusading efforts of alleged VIP abuse Witch-finder General Tom Watson MP? – “Nick” et al and the shameful persecution of Leon Brittain, Lord Bramall and Harvey Proctor.

        Watson curiously enough has never had a word to say about Rotherham in the Black Country

        “Rotherham Model” abuse in Birmingham and the Black Country was unearthed several years ago by the Birmingham Mail, levered out via FOI. But apparently of no interest to the well-padded Crusader, who like all his colleagues in the area rely heavily on a certain bloc vote, as indeed was the case in Rotherham as both Prof Jay and Denis MacShane said.

        Of far more moment to Watson were the bizarre claims of Esther Baker – our hero demanding a “comprehensive investigation”, strangely nothing more has been heard of this

        Food for thought, or not as the case may be

          1. Be patient, my friends! It’s just about the right time for the Police/CPS to strategically throw another ‘M84 flash bang’ into the public domain. Normally this is done at the end of a trial just to keep the public on board to their wayward ways. It’s about time they opened up another ‘Nick’ like investigation, had the public arrest of a celeb, etc etc to get the acceptance of reduced community policing, but replaced with ‘big investigations’ costing the ‘Just about managing’ the shirts of their backs with an increase in local council tax. After all, those officers not on sick leave need the overtime.

  8. I have recently been charged with making 70 cat A indecent images of children found on my computer after a police raid last September on my house as a result of a suspicion of another offence which the police are now not pursuing. I am awaiting a magistrate court hearing in early July which will no doubt go forward to the Crown Court.

    I fall exactly into that category that Simon Bailey is referring to in that I have no previous convictions and up until now have been a respected member of the community. Since this happened my generally happy marriage of 27 years is over and I am now divorced. No court can ever punish me more than that but now I face a possible custodial sentence with further consequences of being put on the SOR and community orders etc as well. There are fairly strong mitigating circumstances which mean I may avoid a custodial sentence but the trauma is substantial.

    I have examined my conscience again and again over how I came to be in this position. I am bisexual and enjoy sex with both sexes but does that make me a pariah in society? Sadly I knew my wife could never accept my bisexuality which is why I never told her and the lack of trust as a result is the downfall to our marriage. I was seduced by an older boy many years ago when I was 16 but thereafter never indulged in any bisexual activity until about ten years ago. I am interested in younger men now and tragically started looking for them on the internet when sex within my marriage to an older wonderful lady dwindled. I come from a generation who did not “grow up” with the internet but recognise the wonderful asset that it is so have learnt how to use it to a certain extent. However the downside is that publishers are able to publish all sorts of inappropriate material vis a viz images and videos of children – mostly made abroad by persons unknown. I have never sought to view images of children (being any image under 18 I am told). However I have sought images of younger men and women – more out of curiosity than anything else. The proliferation of pop ups and referrals to others sites is mind boggling. The rate at which new material is uploaded is staggering. I have little sympathy for the search engines in general but I do recognise that even if they doubled the finance available to monitor and delete videos/images they would never keep up. I am now accused of making indecent images of children (but have yet to see the evidence) and have to decide what to plea. It is almost certain that I will plead guilty because if I do I get a third off my sentence and this ghastly episode will end quicker. I have passed the threshold for a custodial sentence so this may avoid prison if I plead guilty. The cost of my defence is significant and, after the divorce costs, i am now borrowing money from a friend to fund my defence. These pressures induce me to plead guilty when I may doubt if that is fair but how do I fund any defence when the balance of probabilities mitigate against it? I did not know I was breaking the law and that the age for viewing images was 18 and not the age of consent- no defence I know but a fact. Throughout I thought I was doing no more than viewing “top shelf” magazines in many newsagents or legal sex shops. Maybe morally doubtful for some but not illegal. Is it really appropriate that I be sent to prison for upto a year? Is it appropriate that the crime of “making” be categorised along with rape, sex with animals and the like? I know for a fact that there are many out there – mainly male but some female – who may have inappropriate images on their computers but have not been caught. Surely the legislators need to look at this again? I am not trying to excuse myself for my sins and will take my punishment but I am trying to argue for proportionality in a “crime” which is getting bigger and bigger and impossible to police under its present terms. I represent no danger to children or society at large but my life and that of my family has been badly affected and the misery is continuing.

  9. I am the wife of someone who was accused of an indecent image offence and I have had my eyes opened wide to the horrific consequences of an allegation of this kind. Both being professional people we have both lost careers, friends, dignity and any pride.
    The police investigation was shambolic, completely prejudged (the intelligence was infallible according to them and our employers) Why bother with the sham of an investigation when you can go straight to jail, do not pass go and not collect your £200? We faced corporate vigilantism of the most horrific sort.
    After lengthy shenanigans including the offer of a police caution, the images being downgraded to a paultry 4 all low level, the CPS agreed they should have dropped it months ago. My husband overheard the CPS barrister saying so and they offered no evidence. Walk away happy? Not so, the horrifying experience was only to get worse.

    The police twisted the case termination to their own ends. Presenting their untested evidence including the four pathetic images to employers and professional hearings that hung on to their every word. Of course the images cannot now be legally tested…..they had a field day. The ‘panels’ of police lap dogs sucked up their twisted and manipulated language, nothing by way of defence was accepted. Had the evidence been in any way as the police now presented the case would have clearly continued. But of course the other authorities want rid and don’t care how they hurt us in the process, going so far as to not hear publicly statements supplied in defence. The press coverage has now been horrendous.

    They also relied heavily on the shadow cast by the original intelligence, none of which was found and of course despite this being used to crucify my husband you cannot examine. What has this country become?

    Many innocent people and their wider families are being caught up in this nightmare with the lifelong stigma it creates.

    Whilst I am cautious of Simon Baileys agenda at least it slowly sheds some light on this most closed of topics, long overdue in my opinion.

  10. What other organisations can these tortured people seek out and torment, then aggravate the good works done by few for so many?

    Following the report on the abuse at the ‘Haut de la Garenne’ – Jersey Childrens Home , a couple of weeks ago, we hear that historic and modern day abuse of minors being described as ‘rampant’ CCF groups and the Army Cadet Forces. We are running out of people and organisations to accuse. Maybe the school crossing patrols or even staff in ‘WHSmith’, who interact with children, will soon be in the ‘cross hairs’ of these compensation focused historic abuse claimants. Lots of “allegations”. It is always concerning that a flurry of accusations come out of nowhere – is it people being encouraged to come forward, or is it a bandwagon?

    How many people, considering there has been reported that there are 1500 allegations against football coaches accused of sexual abuse, by these life crisis driven over 30 year old blokes, have actually been arrested, charged and even prosecuted after nearly 11 months of investigations by a dozen police forces?

    Nearly 15 years ago a friend, a solicitor, represented a teacher accused of an offence of striking a minor. After great effort he managed to find evidence that completely disproved the case. He said at the time “It’s all about compensation from the local authority, who pay up rather than investigate”. My friend also commented about the harm it has caused to his client and that there would be no redress against the minor or his parents who fabricated evidence.The Ministry of Defence seems to have ‘shed loads of money’ and has in the past paid up rather than investigate – so for some it’s going to be an easy target for ‘compo’!

    Often all the real claimant wants is for their story to be heard. Whereas many of those who make false allegations (often proven by the chronology of seeking out compensation solicitors first) see ‘money’ as their aim through fraudulent claims. Maverick and mercenary solicitors akin to acting agencies, actively seek out the ‘Nicks’ of this world who can put on a good show, ‘act the victim’ and ‘spin a good yarn’. Thus the ‘false claimants’ waste police time with no consideration to the considerable financial burden to you and I as taxpayers. Certainly they do not have a moral compass!

    God help us from the damage these false claimant people do to the lives of those who have genuinely suffered abuse and as the real claimants fight to be heard locked into the trauma to the sea of legal filth. God help us from the organisations who fuel the hype, I certainly will never contribute another penny to the NSPCC or children’s organisations and further to this I’d like to withdraw my council tax element that pays the Police, but I can not. They are all having a field day on the back of the hype.

    For those of you who think you are safe, take heed of Martin Niemöller’s words.

    “First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a Socialist.

    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out. Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.”

  11. A terrific and brave article – although to call such a display of perfectly reasonable and objective points as ‘brave’ is to highlight the almost medieval ignorance that still prevails in the public mind towards so-called paedophilia.
    Congratulations particularly on suggesting that the very people the established approach is meant to protect – children! – are actually being failed. I would put it stronger: The sheer mania for pursuing and prosecuting every shade of alleged sex offence towards children, and the zealous holding to the dogmatic belief in supply and demand, is making scapegoats and pariahs to cover for the authorities’ (and ours as a society) miserable failure to stop those who start this problem at source by contact-abusing children.
    A pity you espouse one typical aspect of the medieval ignorance, though, in suggesting in effect there is ‘no cure’, that true rehabilitation is not possible, only a form of ‘control’ of the drooling offender as it were. I can tell you from experience – not that I will be believed – that many men who commit internet-only offences are utterly heartbroken and full of self-loathing, wishing only to rebuild their lives and to all intents and purposes able to once more feel the sane repugnance towards child-sexual abuse as the general population – if only they were allowed to! This mantra of ‘no cure’ fills many offenders with despair, knowing that trust will never be given and the stigma never alleviated.
    The proposals of Mr Bailey and the large swathe of common sense in this blog go some way towards a humane (if not necessarily for that reason) and enlightened approach that recognises the complex spectrum of flawed human behaviour, and would thus deliver a better law enforcement and criminal justice, thereby reducing the abuse of children by better directed resources. Also it would reduce the hypocrisy of collateral damage to countless Indecent Image offenders’ children, whose invariably loving and safe fathers are dragged through this mud in the glare of their local media (another medievalism, similar to the stocks or a walk of shame) all because the police cannot stop the actual abusers and have to insist on this scatter-gun, roundabout approach.

  12. Your comments about Simon Bailey seem very accurate. Great article.

    Just wondering if you have heard of StopSO: The Specialist Treatment Organisation for the Prevention of Sexual Offending. We work with all kinds of sex offenders at all stages, including before they have committed a crime (we are the only charity to offer one-to-one counselling to these people all across the UK). I thought I would let you know about it. I am chair of this organisation.

    1. Hi Juliet,

      Whilst I applaud your organisations aims the language you use concerns me. How can you be a sex offender BEFORE you have committed any crime? You are not an offender until you have ‘offended’.
      It’s language like this that comes across as very judgemental and sets people apart from others in the community. I can’t see how people (and yes these are people first) would want to engage with your service if they are labelled in this way with said label conjuring up feelings of revulsion and hatred in society.

      Until we all accept that this is a part of everyday society that can’t be hidden away we’ll make no progress.

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