Child pornography arrests have trebled in Suffolk since 2011
- Credit: PA
Arrests of child pornography suspects in Suffolk have trebled in three years, according to police figures.
Last year Suffolk Constabulary detained 61 people, including a 13-year-old, on suspicion of possessing, making, or distributing indecent images of children.
This compared with 27 in 2013, 24 in 2012, and 20 in 2011. During those three years the youngest suspects ranged from being aged between 14 and 16, while the oldest were between 67 and 70 years old.
A senior detective has said the escalation reflects a trend across England and Wales, while a psychologist believes despite the huge amount of publicity relating to court cases people still disassociate themselves from the risk of getting caught.
Detective Superintendent Dave Cutler, Head of Protecting Vulnerable People said: “Figures in Suffolk reflect a national trend showing an increase in recorded child sexual abuse, including online, which can be linked to the availability of online image sharing, increased confidence in reporting and targeted police activity.
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“Within Suffolk, it has been recognised that crime trends are changing and the demand on the Protecting Vulnerable People Directorate, which investigates offences such as this has significantly increased.
“As a result, additional staff and officer posts have been introduced to the department to respond to this demand.
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“Officers work with regional and national colleagues in the National Crime Agency and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre to respond to intelligence relating to the distribution of sexual images of children and to locate those responsible.
“Any report of child sexual abuse is taken extremely seriously and specialist support is in place to help those who have been a victim of this type offence.”
Susan Vivian-Byrne, a forensic and criminal psychologist, believes people often feel safe searching for child pornography over the internet while in the privacy of their homes, despite the high risk of being discovered.
She said: “On one hand you would expect the fear of being caught, but on the other there’s the real sense that when people are on the internet in their own homes they are anonymous and no-one will know they are doing it.
“It is being in that virtual world. People can convince themselves it is still anonymous and they will get away with it.
“We don’t know what percentage of people who do it are getting caught. It might be the majority are still getting away with it.
“I think an awful lot of people who access internet porn say it was accidental and they were only looking for adult porn and it all just appeared while they weren’t really looking for it.
“It is a kind of detached thinking being reinforced by people acting in their own homes and feeling very safe without realising it is much easier to find those who are accessing it.”