Call for course not court for first-time child porn pervs

The number of prosecutions brought against people in Greater Manchester for viewing indecent images of children has more than tripled in a decade.

Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 1:25 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th June 2019, 2:25 pm
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court
Wigan and Leigh Magistrates' Court

The campaign group Justice says a surge in sexual offence allegations has put increasing pressure on courts, and has called for first-time offenders to attend educational programmes instead of being charged.

Other news: Wigan man had Champions League final ticket seized by "corrupt" police officer on way into stadiumBut the NSPCC warned that prison must remain an option for people who view “sick images”.

New Ministry of Justice data shows 297 Greater Manchester Police cases related to viewing indecent images of children resulted in prosecutions last year: more than triple the 84 cases that made it to court in 2008.

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Justice has argued for offenders with no relevant criminal record to attend a course to address their behaviour, with one follow-up session eight months later.

The aim is to reduce court pressures, although those who fail to complete the sessions would still be prosecuted.

Former Old Bailey judge Peter Rook QC, who chairs the group’s working party, said: “We have sought to identify areas where greater efficiency can be achieved without in any way eroding fair trial. We found that there is substantial scope for alleviating the pressures upon the criminal justice system by improving our response to sexual offending and treatment of those it has harmed.”

An NSPCC spokesman said: “Viewing such sick images is a crime and prison must remain an option to reflect the severity of it and to protect the public. But we know that prison alone cannot solve the situation and we must make prevention and rehabilitation a priority to avoid abuse happening in the first place.”

A spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service said: “Possessing indecent images of children is a serious offence and we will always seek to bring charges where there is enough evidence and it is in the public interest to do so.”

A Government spokesman said offenders who view, but don’t create or share, indecent images of children can already be given cautions with tough conditions attached by the police, if prosecutors agree.