Feeds

UK police moot paedo hard disk amnesty

Hand yourself in and avoid court

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Boost IT visibility and business value

UK police are mulling over launching an interesting
initiative in which paedophiles can avoid a court appearence if they offer themselves and their hard drives up for counselling and erasure/destruction, respectively.

According to the BBC, the scheme will target proto-paedophiles in possession of "low-grade paedophilia". Upon surrender to the authorities, the offenders are subject to psychiatric testing to ensure they are no threat to children and, assuming this is the case, cautioned and released. They are, however, placed on the sex offenders' register.

The plan's architect, Donald Findlater of child protection charity the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, believes that "the easy availability of material on the internet has caused a substantial increase in sexual offences against children", and that "exposure to child pornography increases the likelihood of people becoming riskier around children".

Maybe so, but will this proposal encourage people to seek help before they become a real danger to children? It's no gun amnesty, that's for certain: you don't just hand over your Russian assault rifle and walk out of the police station, no questions asked. Therein may lie a serious impediment to success. Findlater himself admits that paedophiles "face prosecution and demonisation by the media, if they break cover".

Indeed, an individual's presence on the sex offenders' register, whether they've been prosecuted or not, is likely to provoke a violent public reaction as soon as it is discovered. Such rough justice is popular, but it is hardly an ideal atmosphere in which to persuade people to in effect sign up voluntarily for the sex offenders' register.

Nevertheless, related pilot schemes can boast some positive results. A helpline run by the Home Office-funded "Stop It Now! project attracted hundreds of calls, among them a man who - after viewing paedophile pictures online - found himself sexually attracted to his kids' friends. Another indulged in a bit of self-therapy by trashing his computer and chucking it into the sea in disgust at his own proclivities.

But there's a big difference between calling a helpline and walking into the nearest nick and saying:
"I'm a paedophile and here is the evidence".

How the police would process such a volunteer? The Home Office grades paedo porn from 1-5, from naked teens at one end of the scale, to abused infants at the other. But John Carr at NCH Action for Children points out that "there is no clear correlation between the seriousness of material on someone's hard drive and the likelihood that they are abusing children".

In the end, though, the fate of the proposed amnesty may hinge on a simple matter of police resources. According to one police estimate more than 250,000 British men have used credit cards to get at child net porn.
if an amnesty convinces even a small fraction to come forward, it will be worthwhile.

The BBC notes that police already hold details of 7,200 "Internet sex offenders" gathered as part of an 1999 investigation into a US-based paedophile "gateway". Most remain at liberty and uncharged. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.