Most of us can agree than anyone who looks at child pornography should be put in jail.
But according to Chief Constable Simon Bailey of the National Police Chiefs’ Council in the U.K., police forces simply can’t handle the sheer number of child abuse reports they get, which have risen by 80 percent in three years. In fact, a 2016 NSPCC study suggested that over half a million people look at explicit images of children.
As the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales (IICSA) began holding full public hearings to investigate child abuse claims, Bailey said that pedophiles who view these images but don’t go any further should be rehabilitated instead of being jailed.
According to Bailey, police working with the National Crime Agency have arrested about 400 people every month for looking at these images. He continued by stating that they need to focus on those actively looking to meet and sexually abuse young children. “They are the individuals that pose the really significant threat,” he said.
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Instead of putting people who look at child abuse images in jail, he says they should be warned, put on the registry of sex offenders, and rehabilitated.
While rehabilitation is a good idea, without criminal punishment, it begs an important question: where’s the justice for the real children who were sexually abused and recorded? “Every time an image is viewed, the victim is being victimized again and there is nothing as abhorrent,” Bailey acknowledged. “But we have to be able to manage the totality.”