Dozens of offenders only cautioned for crimes linked to indecent images of children

January 7, 2015
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More than 80 offenders were let off with cautions for crimes linked to indecent images of children in the four years from 2010 to 2013.

Surrey Police revealed a total of 84 people were cautioned for offences involving indecent photographs of children during that period, with the highest annual number – 25 – coming in 2011.

The force stressed each person had to sign on the sex offenders’ register – which can impact on employment and travelling abroad – and that each case was “judged on its own merits”.

Figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request showed 23 cautions in 2013, 18 in 2012, 25 in 2011 and 18 in 2010.

They were for offences include distributing and possessing indecent photographs of children.

‘Careful consideration’

A force spokesman said: “Surrey Police has a joint dedicated Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) with Sussex Police that deals specifically with online offending such as possession and making of indecent images of children.

“Every case is assessed on its own merits and if a caution is issued for such an offence, it is only done so following careful consideration of the individual circumstances.

“Matters which are considered include the level of category [of seriousness] and number of images, whether the offender has any previous history of sexual offences, whether they are engaging with a support/counselling facility, whether they took or distributed images, whether the victim is known to them, whether they have access to children or hold a position of responsibility and whether the public interest threshold for charging has been met or not.

“Examples where cautions may be issued include when a young person may have taken a picture of themselves which they have then distributed or where an offender may have been in possession of a very low number of images.”

‘Cautions applied appropriately’

In line with Ministry of Justice Guidance on Simple Cautions for Adult Offenders, Surrey Police said cautions for these types of offences “need to be authorised by a senior officer of inspector rank or above”.

The Surrey Police spokesman added: “All offenders receiving a caution are placed onto the sex offenders’ register for a period of two years, which does include monitoring of the individual’s activities.

“The cautions would also appear on the offender’s criminal record and would therefore be taken into account by the courts should they commit any further offences in the future.

“It would also be disclosable when seeking employment in occupations where the offender would be working with children or vulnerable adults, and could adversely affect the obtaining of a visa to visit countries outside the UK.

“Surrey Police complies with the national cautioning criteria and, in addition to an external scrutiny panel, has an internal audit team that check regularly that cautions are applied appropriately.”

Article source: http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/dozens-offenders-only-cautioned-crimes-8272790


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