Child Abuse
Should we jail those who view online abuse or provide medical treatment?Reuters

A police chief has argued that those who access child porn online should receive medical help rather than be sentenced to jail.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey of Norfolk Police, said that police simply did not have the resources to catch and prosecute all of those who viewed the material online, and instead should focus on catching "contact abusers" who commit actual acts of abuse.

He said on BBC Radio 4's The World Tonight: "Law enforcement has to come up with a model for dealing with the people that pose the greatest threat to children in the form of contact abuse whilst dealing with those people that don't pose the threat in a different way."

Chief Constable Bailey admitted that his views were likely to prove controversial, with a recent review of academic studies commissioned by police showing that 16% to 50% of those who view online child porn go on to commit abuse.

He said though that those attracted by to the material ought to receive medical help.

He added: "We should be actively working with clinicians who can get to the bottom of that perverse attraction and starting to help those people who would seek to derive some pleasure from looking at a child being abused."

David Niven, former chairman of the British Association of Social Workers, told the BBC though that chief constable Bailey's views were "ridiculous", and those who viewed child abuse online caused it by creating a market.

Mr Niven agreed there should be more treatment available for paedophiles but said there was "no such thing as a cure".

He said that while other addicts harm only themselves, "in this case other victims are children".
"So you've got to have dual controls, you've got to have the threat of enforcement, as well as the provision of treatment," he said.