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Prosecutions in Cambridgeshire for viewing indecent images of children have dropped in decade




The number of prosecutions brought against people in Cambridgeshire for viewing indecent images of children has dropped in the last decade, bucking the national trend.

Prosecutions in Cambridgeshire for viewing indecent images of children have dropped in decade.
Prosecutions in Cambridgeshire for viewing indecent images of children have dropped in decade.

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

But the NSPCC warned that prison must remain an option for people who view “sick images”.

New Ministry of Justice data shows that 65 Cambridgeshire Constabulary cases related to the viewing of indecent images of children resulted in prosecutions last year.

It is fewer than the 67 cases that made it to court in 2008.

The local trend contrasts with that across England and Wales, where the number of prosecutions almost doubled over the period. Last year, 4,708 cases went to court.

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

While the aim is to reduce pressure on courts, those who failed to complete the sessions would still face prosecution.

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.”

In response to Justice’s proposal, an NSPCC spokesperson 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.”

The number of prosecutions in Cambridgeshire last year reflected a fall from 2017, when 93 were recorded. Across England and Wales, they fell by 28%.

Commenting on the national figures, a spokesperson 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 spokesperson 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.



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