Eight in 10 convicted in UK over child abuse images avoid prison, NCA says | NCA (National Crime Agency) #convicted #child #abuse #images #avoid #prison #NCA #NCA #National #Crime #Agency

Eight out of 10 people in the UK caught with images of children being sexually abused avoid going to jail, the head of the National Crime Agency has revealed.

Graeme Biggar, the director general of the NCA, said some had been caught with thousands of images but avoided imprisonment, and others had been given rehabilitation orders and suspended sentences and then reoffended.

In a media briefing, the NCA called for tougher sentences of imprisonment.

It also said a decision by Meta, which runs Facebook and Instagram, to introduce end-to-end encryption meant thousands of referrals received from the company about people who may pose a threat to children could be lost.

Biggar said it was “striking” that so many people convicted of having child abuse images were judged by the courts not to merit an immediate prison sentence.

“One thing that does disappoint me about sentencing at the moment is that 80% of convictions for viewing indecent images of children do not result in a custodial sentence. That balance does not feel quite right,” he said.

Asked what the benefit would be of more being imprisoned, Biggar said: “To take them off the streets and stop the offending.”

Rob Jones, the NCA’s director of operations, said: “The bit that is missed is that in the new world there is no difference between online and the real world. It is one continuum.”

He said children were victimised when images of them were viewed, and the demand for fresh images led to new victims.

The NCA assesses that up to 830,000 adults in the UK, 1.6% of the population, pose a threat to children.

Jones said: “You’ve got to confront that somebody gets gratification from seeing horrendous images. They are very determined, very driven.”

He added: “That online world is sometimes underplayed … it is all the real world, particularly for the victims and survivors.”

On Wednesday the NCA said a former rabbi, Yuval Keren, 56, from Pinner, north-west London, had received a suspended sentence after being caught with 1,694 indecent images of children, of which 189 were classes as the most extreme kind, dating back to 2010.

Keren was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for two years at Amersham crown court. He was a rabbi at a north London synagogue when his offending was uncovered and has been sacked.

Biggar said the NCA was in ongoing discussions with the Home Office about tougher measures.

Some paedophiles say they start with adult material. As they became desensitised, they move on to extreme material and eventually to child abuse material. Jones said there were lots of offenders between the ages of 18 and 33.

Biggar said the NCA had asked the government for a new offence making it illegal to run a child sexual abuse website. Acts connected with doing so, such as sharing images, are criminalised but administering such a site is not, Biggar said.

Jones said: “They are advocates for contact abuse of children.”

Jones said people running some abuse sites did so for profit, with cryptocurrency used to pay. “Most of this is for sexual gratification, it is hosted by people with a sexual interest in children, for people with a sexual interest in children,” he said.

Biggar said people did go to jail after running child sexual abuse websites but not for long enough.

The NCA lost a campaign to stop Meta introducing end-to-end encryption and it said it feared that 92% of referrals from Facebook of concerns about threats to children and 85% from Instagram may be lost.

Jones said Meta platforms were now more dangerous for children, and parents need to be aware. “This week they flipped the switch and things got a lot harder for us because of that,” he said.

Jones said thousands of referrals would be lost a year. “It isn’t just images … There are a number of very good referrals they have made over the years around fake accounts linked to adults that are grooming children … We also lose the ability to detect known images of abuse as well.”

#convicted #child #abuse #images #avoid #prison #NCA #NCA #National #Crime #Agency

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