Let's get a couple of thing out of the way (in my opinion) - 'Lessons are rarely learned or enacted upon! The police are about transparent as looking into a darkened room, through a glazed window, with thick blackout curtains.'
I used to automatically celebrate the arrest of individuals involved in offences against minors. I had spent years, as a professional, working with and trying to get my head around the complexity of family abuse. Moreover the route to getting the Police to activate and see a case through to prosecution. Today I have serious doubts about police motives when it comes to arresting anyone.
I shudder, now, every time I see a headline about the Police arresting someone on child exploitation allegations; or any other alleged offences against minors. I must profess that I have become cynical to the polices actions. These arrests are too often enveloped with the use of the term 'suspicion' ,where there is the weakest of evidence, but are reported in true tabloid style - judging the detainee (without any doubt) as absolutely guilty, by the Police; ably supported by the Front Pages of the UK press influencing the public's reaction. When the cool light of the day exposes the polices wrong doing, they cocoon themselves in their armoured bunkers. I am also very cynical about using evidence supplied through the 'hoody' dressed, voice masked silloutted TV interview giving statements about henious crimes, triggering the police to run around like headless chickens; in many cases those accusing are being paid my media outlets for their interview destroying any credibility of the witness. Yet, the police expend inordinate amounts of investigation time (at high cost to the public), 'Fiddling whilst Rome burns', chasing fairy dust , exploiting Beria's infamous boast of “Show me the man and I'll show you the crime” and ignoring the great concern for domestic child abuse. There is clearly now a large element of mission creep.
When was the last time we saw a headline 'Father convicted of buggering son' , 'Father rapes teenage daughter' or 'Mother imprisoned for raping her own son'
For a large portion of the population, it makes sense that everyone who is arrested (with satisfactory evidence) is going to be charged and prosecuted. For so many, who have been arrested, the real course of events will not be simple and all is very different, when over zealous Police forces are arresting purely on suspicion with no evidence, eager to make up for their past failings and 'Arresting because they can!'. Many of those arrested could be entirely innocent of wrong doing and face lengthy investigations after being 'accused' but without any evidence. After exoneration they are cast into the path of lifes missiles without any support, but continued doubt is placed on their character simply because they have been subject to an arrest which raises a possibility, through Bellerophonic accusation that they are a 'paedophile'.
Some recent major operations, by the Police, need some serious and intensive 'quality control', monitoring and investigation. Especially, when their results conclude in a low percentage being charged, after an arrest for a serious offence. This poor charging rate questions Police competence in their professional judgement, when no evidence is there to support the arrest; or competence in their professional skills to formulate a case through to trial. This has the most pertainance In the case of 'viewing indecent images', as it is technically difficult for viewed images to be masked or deleted from the accused computer device or media. It takes expert skills to remove all evidence of viewing. Any time that a file is 'deleted' from a hard drive, it is not erased. What is erased is the bit of information that points to the location of the file on the hard drive. The operating system uses these pointers to build the directory tree structure (the file allocation table), which consists of the pointers for every other file on the hard drive. When the pointer is erased, the file essentially becomes invisible to the operating system. The file still exists; the operating system just doesn't know how to find it. It is, however, relatively easy to retrieve deleted files with the right software.Therefore, the evidence is there if an individual is viewing banned material. The only other conclusion is that the evidence was never there in the first place, completely compromising any legitimacy for the arrest in the first instance.
Starting in May 2002, 'Operation Ore' was implemented in the UK, to investigate and prosecute the 'Landslide Server' users, whose names were provided by the FBI to UK Police forces as potential criminals. The UKs standard Police operating procedures, at the time, dictated that any alleged 'indecent image viewer' must be arrested quickly due to the high risk they posed to children. The total number of arrests, with 'Operation Ore', was 3,744, which shocked many as these included ministers, MPs and other respected members of the British establishment. 'Operation Ore' was the United Kingdom's biggest ever computer crime investigation, leading to 7,250 suspects identified, 4,283 homes searched, 3,744 arrests, 1,848 of which were charged, with only 1,451 of these being convicted. A further 493 were cautioned and 140 children removed from suspected dangerous situations. Of those arrested and not prosecuted there was over 30 suicides. 'Operation Ore' identified and prosecuted some sex offenders, but the validity of the police procedures was later questioned, as errors resulted in a large number of false arrests.
'Operation Notarise' signified that lessons were not learned from 'Operation Ore'. The early hours raids in July 2014 lead to over 650 people (many education, care and medical professionals) being subjected to arrest and has since risen to 745 (and still counting). Of which only 260 have been charged, 16 cautioned, some remain on long term Police bail (why?), with the highest portion not being investigated any longer. This last category is called NFA (no further action) and the accused is discharged from investigations. In July 2014, Keith Bristow, the former Director-General of the National Crime Agency, who was paid a salary of over £220,000 a year, confidently stated when questioned about the potential 'False-arrest' scenario; " We are far ahead from Operation Ore and I'm confident that the people we have identified ..........if evidence is presented appropriately, that there will be a high conviction rate." The outcome has been yet another 'buggers muddle' and high levels of 'Collateral Damage' to peoples lives. Yet, again deaths have followed Police actions, discharged from investigation, left without support and dispossessed by society.
This begs so many questions about the validity of such a large number of arrests and there outcomes. Many believe, especially with allegations of viewing indecent images of children, that there is nothing more than the weakest suggestion of a crime being committed, leading to arrests on a vague suspicion. What has become complex, awkward and unforgiveable is the lack of resolve to 'domestic' child sexual abuse and a massive focus on something which is easy (but costly), through technology to identify perpetrators; the viewing of indecent images. There is a great emphasis on 'stranger' based sexual abuse and even a greater emphasis on indecent image viewing. The last is a controversial area, in terms of overt resourcing; as there is little current empirical data which supports a public presumption that all persons engaged in 'indecent image viewing', will automatically be a contact abuser. Initial studies from Stockholm University - Sweden are reporting that as few as 3% of indecent image viewers are involved in an contact abuse. No organisation in the UK has been able to provide any empirical data to support the public figures banded around by the Police.
The umbrella term of 'Paedophile' is set in modern day parlance and has become a 'catch all' , emotive and hysterical term. It is a term clearly defined in law as "a person over 18 years of age having sexual contact with a person under 16 years of age". The terms of reference need to be separated, much as we do for the different type of offences. Child physical abuse, child neglect, contact child sexual abuse by an adult (paedophilia), indecent image viewing and the production of indecent images are separate offences. There have been few studies done on the correlation between these differing crimes; with empirical data to support the assumptions of many is very week and confused, at best. Yet we hear politicians and law enforcement services band around materially inaccurate figures, repeatedly using the term 'paedophile' (when they mean other clearly defined offences), often unable to support their spiels with any correlating or empirical data based evidence.
Any rational person would question 'Why are the Police being so offensive in their actions?". Soothing the public unease about the area of child exploitation related activities is not easy; but these arrests have become part of the 'solution' for the Police to getting additional funding and being seen as being pro-active towards crime, generally. Having failed in so many areas of protecting many young lives, who are subject to child exploitation for many years by familiy members, Politicians and the Police are in overdrive to recover from some of their embarrassing failings of the past. Disclosed arrests to the press and dawn raids using many officers (alerting the local community) have become the 'oxygen' to the publicity, expressing to the public that they are doing 'something' to earn their Queen's shilling. Increasing the over-time bill for each force as well.
These actions can only question: "How long can we accept this 'Fishing' and 'Witch Hunting' style of investigations, where no evidence is ever found by the Police?", "Why are we accepting the scandal of lives being destroyed as a result of Police actions?" Most fundementally, when the police realise that they have made a clean mistake "why is there no route to any redress, other than an investgation of themselves?" "Why don't they ever apoligise for their wrong doing?" "Why do they bunker themselves like frightened 5 year olds, who are fearful of telling the truth after they have done something wrong?" The 'machismo man' needs to man up!
On release from investigation, where no evidence is found, the police never state that you are innocent. They send you a tick box sheet. Mine said ‘We have determined there is insufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction.' There is no box for 'You have been deemed innocent'. The police guarantee an air of doubt is placed on the individual and care not that a blameless man is sentenced to life under a cloud of suspicion, where zero evidence is found .
“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.” - Benjamin Franklin