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People who download child porn from the Internet could escape prosecution under new guidelines. Police are to be given the discretion to caution suspects

Only suspects with more than 16 child porn images on their computers - or with relevant previous convictions - face charges under new police guidelines, The Sun reports.

The new "case disposal" regulations follows Operation Ore, during which US investigators gave police the names of more than 7,000 individuals who had paid to access a Texan child porn portal. Scotland Yard and senior Crown Prosecution Service lawyers drafted the rules.

Child protection groups quoted by The Sun say cautioning is the wrong way to clear the backlog of cases created in the wake of Operation Ore.

A Scotland Yard spokesman, however, defended its approach: "The case disposal policy takes into account all the available evidence and Home Office sentencing and advisory panel guidance." ®

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