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Offences Against Children

Volume 496: debated on Tuesday 1 September 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what research his Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated (1) on potential links between those who (i) view evidence of child abuse online and (ii) abuse children; (288874)

(2) on any relationship between incidences viewing of child abuse online and the incidence of (i) abuse of children and (ii) other types of sexual offences;

(3) on the use of evidence of possession of different types of child abuse images to predict likely future risks to children.

In April this year law enforcement, government and academic experts from the G8 nations and others came together in a symposium hosted by the United States of America to discuss these issues raised; it included experts from the UK’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). Their deliberations led to the issue on 30 May 2009 of a G8 Justice and Home Affairs Ministerial Statement “The risk to children posed by Child Pornography offenders”. Among the many conclusions and recommendations was: an acceptance of a relationship between viewing and contact offending, although more work was required to determine the exact nature of that relationship; a recognition that based on conviction evidence a significant proportion of “image” offenders had committed some form of contact offence; and the exchange of child abuse images and communication between child sexual offenders legitimises and normalises their beliefs and behaviours providing a social context which encourages the further exploitation of children.

The Home Office, CEOP and other relevant stakeholders from across Government will be exploring how the recommendations from the G8 ministerial statement can be taken forward in a UK context.