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Eighty per cent of paedophiles convicted over child abuse images are not being jailed warns NCA boss

ABOUT 80 per cent of paedophiles convicted of possessing sick indecent images of child abuse are not sent to prison, it has emerged.

The head of the National Crime Agency (NCA) is calling for a toughening of the sentencing regime for the offence, saying more of them need to be off the streets.

Just 20 per cent of those convicted receive an immediate jail term, according to NCA Director General Graeme Biggar, with most getting suspended prison sentences and community orders instead, he said.

Mr Biggar said it was "striking" that so many paedophiles who possess child sex abuse material are not jailed, and he would prefer they were locked up to "get them off the streets and stop the offending".

He said that offenders caught with thousands of horrific images, often depicting the worst kind of abuse, were walking free from courts on a regular basis.

They include Yuval Keren, 56, (below) a former Rabbi from Pinner, north-west London, who was sentenced to 20 months in prison suspended for two years after NCA officers found him in possession of hundreds of indecent images of children.

An investigation was launched in July 2022 after NCA officers received a referral from online storage provider Dropbox, which stated that a user was uploading suspicious images on their platform.

NCA officers identified the user as Keren. He was arrested at his home address, where several devices were seized.

Officers found a total of 1694 indecent images of children, of which 189 were category A (the most extreme). The images dated back to 2010, and indicated that Keren had accessed content repeatedly over the last thirteen years.

He pleaded guilty to all charges on the 11 October 2023.

He was sentenced at Amersham Crown Court today (December 13 2023) to 20 months in prison suspended for 2 years, 40 hours rehabilitation, 180 hours unpaid work, 10 years on the Sex Offenders Register and a 5 year Sexual Harm Prevention Order.

Mr Biggar also said the NCA is urging the Home Office to introduce new laws to criminalise the running and administration of online and dark-web platforms that host the material - as moderating the sites is currently only the offence of distribution.

Soft sentences from judges is being compounded by a prison space shortage crisis.

Mr Biggar said that rehabilitation could work in some cases, but that the amount walking free from court did "not feel right”.

He would prefer to see such offenders given immediate custodial sentences.

Speaking at a press briefing, he said: “We are in ongoing discussions with the Home Office who are thinking about this and are trying to establish what would be the right approach.

“Judges will look at each case and will think about a particular case in a way that is very hard for me to take a view of the totality.

I just think that balance needs to shift slightly.”

Rob Jones, NCA Director of Operations, said: “Our assessed position is that there are between 680,000 and 830,000 of these individuals in the UK, so we need to do other things in terms of treatment, diversion and disruption because wherever we sit with sentencing they are not all going to be in prison.”

Mr Jones said: “There is no ‘just looking at images’ to this, you have got to confront that somebody gets gratification from seeing horrendous images.

“They horrify me, they horrify the people who work for me, they horrify any right-minded person.”

He went on: “In the new world there is no real difference between online and the real world, it is one continuum. Those victims - if it is a known image - are being re-victimised when they are being viewed and if it is a new image that has been created, these people are causing contact abuse.

“So that online world I think sometimes is underplayed and separated from the real world. It is all the real world, particularly for victims and survivors.

“So what we are trying to update is the approach to that and make sure we are challenging the perception that someone is ‘just viewing indecent images of children’ because it is contact abuse and re-victimisation.”

Latest Ministry of Justice figures show 2,087 people were convicted of taking, distributing, publishing or possessing indecent or prohibited images of children in 2022 and of these 29 per cent (609) were jailed.


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