New Campaign Reaches Out to People Looking at Indecent Images of Children and Urges Them to Seek Help

Tuesday, 24 April, 2018

West Yorkshire Police is for the first time publically reaching out to people who look at indecent images of children online and warning them they will be caught if they don’t take action now to stop their illegal activities.

The new campaign is the first of its kind in West Yorkshire specifically targeting adults involved in the viewing of indecent images of under 18-year-olds online.

Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson said: “While people may not be surprised that it is predominantly men that are arrested for this kind of offence, they may be surprised by the wide range of individuals that we are taking to the cells. We see men of all ages and backgrounds, many on the face of it family men or respectable professionals. Most of the people we arrest for downloading and sharing indecent images of children haven’t come to police attention before and are not what people may think of as a criminal.

“We know some offenders think that it is a victimless crime as they are not physically abusing the child but this is simply not the case. Victims tell us that each time an image or video of them is downloaded or shared it is like being abused all over again.

“It cannot be clearer, if you are convicted of viewing or distributing indecent images of children you will be required to sign the sex offenders register because you are a sex offender.”

During 2017, West Yorkshire Police arrested 149 adults on suspicion of possession of indecent images of children. Those arrested included four company directors, two solicitors and four people working in the computer industry.

“The message we want to get out there is it doesn’t matter who you are, if you are looking at illegal images online then our dedicated Abusive Images Team will catch you and the repercussions are far reaching,” ACC Hankinson added.

In addition to the actual sentence handed down at court, the consequences for the offender can include:

Social care referrals for any children they have access to.

  • Potential breakdowns in relationships with wife/husband/partner and abandonment of friendships.
  • Disclosure to work, clubs and organisations they are involved in and potential loss of employment.
  • Social stigma, social isolation and mental illness.

West Yorkshire Police is encouraging anyone with concerns about their online habits to seek help now. There is support available from a number of charities and not for profit organisations, including the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and the NSPCC.

The number of people in West Yorkshire accessing support via the Lucy Faithfull Foundation is on the rise, with a 38 per cent increase in people visiting their website and calling their helpline for support in 2017 compared to 2016. West Yorkshire Police is working with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation as part of this campaign to try and continue this trend and encourage more people to seek help to stop this harmful behaviour.

Tom Squire, Clinical Manager at The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said: "The impact on children when their image is repeatedly shared across the internet can be devastating. The best way to protect children from such abuse is by deterring people from looking at these images in the first place, and to get those who are looking to stop.

"We know from our work that when you make people aware that help is available to stop, people will take up that offer of help. We work with many men arrested after downloading huge numbers of abusive images of children. Nearly all of them say they wish they had known sooner about the help that’s available to stop.

“So I’d urge anyone out there worried about what they are looking at online to get in touch - via the Stop it Now! Get Help website, or via our confidential Helpline on 0808 1000 900.”

The campaign is being supported by the Police and Crime Commissioner for West Yorkshire, Mark Burns-Williamson.

Mr Burns-Williamson said: “Tackling child sexual abuse and safeguarding young people is an absolute priority. West Yorkshire Police and our partners are doing a huge amount of work to help tackle these issues.

“This campaign, the first of its kind, rightly sends a powerful message warning those accessing and distributing indecent images of children that they will be caught and dealt with appropriately and could face losing everything they hold dear. We want perpetrators and potential perpetrators to know that the consequences of this behaviour, including having to sign the sex offenders register, are very real and would have damaging implications.

“Those accessing illegal images online are committing a serious offence and they will not remain anonymous, and you could lose everything.”

A web chat is taking place from 6pm to 7pm next Wednesday (2 May) with Detective Superintendent Darren Minton, Head of West Yorkshire Police’s Safeguarding Central Governance Unit; and Detective Inspector Marc Bowes, of Leeds District Safeguarding Unit. They will be on hand to answer questions and give advice to anyone affected by this issue.

You can register beforehand for the web chat and set a reminder for on the day. Anyone getting involved in the web chat can choose to do so anonymously. To register, or to find out more, visit: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/indecent-images-children-campaign-webchat

For more information about the campaign and support available visit: www.westyorkshire.police.uk/iioc

 

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