Thursday, 2 March 2017

Too Many to Prosecute?

Seen on Facebook:-

Newsnight covered this just now. The choice presented to the public was to either lock up low risk internet offenders, or to not. No mention of probation. No mention of the fact that we don't lock up low risk internet offenders now.
Don’t lock up low-risk paedophiles, say police
Paedophiles who view indecent images should not be given any criminal sanction unless they pose a physical threat to children, according to Britain’s most senior child protection police officer.
Simon Bailey said that the policing system had reached “saturation point” from increasing reports of sexual abuse, including online and historical cases. Lower-level offending should be decriminalised and dealt with through counselling and rehabilitation, said Mr Bailey, who takes the lead on child protection at the National Police Chiefs Council.
(Murdoch paywall unfortunately prevents any more, but you get the gist - Ed). 

That was a bloody awful interview! There is a huge amount of evidence about prevalence, risk and effective treatment, but you wouldn't know it from that interview!

Utterly infuriating. David A Raho - Can NAPO grab Newsnight and ask for a rerun? Followup piece. I went onto the Newsnight site but there is no "contact us" button. Between the people who have posted, liked, commented, we have national trainer and awesome author, psychologist and practitioner.

... have been told loftily that the new research shows that men who score low risk on Thorntons are statistically no more likely to commit a future sex offence than anyone else. Some of my low risk guys, I reckon that's probably right, some of them definitely not. Do you have a view?

My understanding is that the reoffending rate for men assessed as low risk on RM2K is so low that it's hard to show that treatment has impacted the risk. Therefore, a decision was made that this group shouldn't be eligible for programmes, as there was no evidence that they were effective for this group (effectiveness being defined as reducing reoffending). This was a decision led by prison based colleagues, who were quite rightly trying to direct resources, within custody, to where they would make the most difference. However, in the community, I think that there are many more factors which need consideration, and that this isn't enough. This position is often seen as inadequate by Police, Children's Services and importantly by the community. It's an important discussion, but I don't think there's much likelihood of change.

Twitter is a good forum to contact them.

Yes was listening to radio 4 this morning...same thing from police to courts but no mention of probation though reference was made to social enquiry reports informing the judge but not who writes them...or that they are pre sentence reports these days!!!!

Jim Gamble is awesome and I admire his work hugely. But deterrence is already in place, frankly.

I agree that Twitter can be a good way to let them know urgently that there is more to a story. We know a lot of complex and highly skilled work takes place on a daily basis in probation by dedicated probation professionals who know their stuff and can hold their own. I frequently contact the BBC and other news outlets to remind them we exist and also to use the correct terms. We do not have Parole Officers and Community Service has not been referred to officially as such for some time but constant references are made. The business of going to extraordinary lengths to avoid any mention of probation is at once puzzling as it is frustrating. 
I have asked some of those concerned about this (both interviewers and interviewed) and it seems that other spokes people are reluctant to mention probation because they believe we should be speaking for ourselves whereas others have a political agenda and some interviewers complain they are not getting briefings from probation about the work they are doing. It is the latter who worry me more as I believe that public sector is being subsumed into a nebulous criminal justice entity that may even split apart further again in April and several private probation services would probably prefer to drop the word probation entirely and in some ways this might reflect a degree of honesty as in certain cases any semblance of old school probation has been abandoned for something else entirely - apparently rehabilitation but not as we understand it. 
Napo does need to use its members voices more and engage vocally at every level of the debate rather than calling repeatedly for a new leading spokesperson. Unfortunately few people engaged in doing work with particularly media attention grabbing groups among the range of people we work with want to raise their heads above the parapet for good reason. These are particularly risky times and the impulse of our colleagues is understandably to keep their heads firmly down and remain as safely anonymous as possible therefore we are perhaps eccentric and reckless in this regard by daring to express views and have opinions and try to stimulate wider debate about probation issues in public. 
Believe you me there are diligent persons working hard to snuff such activities out of existence by every means at their disposal. Just need to keep chipping away and do what we can to keep probation alive wherever we can. PS I have just sent a note to a researcher I know at Newsnight to suggest they might want to include probation in their coverage because it seems odd not to mention those who actually perform the work they are talking about. David A Raho.
I am agency and now work in CRC's - Napo presence in CRCs seems to be very limited and from limited information - in my current placement the only Napo rep seems to be 50 miles away - my point is that Napo appears to be limited to NPS these days!
Union activity is being suppressed more than ever across the criminal justice system and in some cases prevented by legislation. Both police and prison colleagues want to take industrial action for numerous grievances but cannot. We see only this week how the POA are being bullied and prevented from taking action aimed at bringing their legitimate concerns to the attention of the public. TR and the split has had a severely detrimental effect on all trade unions within probation and some decided to abandon their unions at exactly the moment this would do most harm assisting those who would dismantle our profession. Despite this Napo has mostly retained its branch structure, is still recognised, and still has a reasonable spread and density of membership. Other unions have unfortunately not fared so well and all unions are under attack from those employers who treat their employees and their representatives with apparent contempt. 
As a union we are rebuilding slowly and the health of Napo reflects the health of the profession that is on its knees and in danger of disappearing altogether. The demands on reps is very high at a time when facility time is being curtailed and union activity under close scrutiny. If we want a union that is strong and effective we first need to get actively involved and do our bit rather than giving in to defeatism. Many people lost faith in unions because they failed to stop TR without appreciating that this is exactly what Grayling wanted and anticipated them to do. New employers are slowly learning to ignore anti union propaganda (it is important we do not get drawn in by this also) and realising that good relations with employee representatives is essential if they want to motivate staff and ultimately reduce reoffending.
Building relationships built on solid formal partnership agreements is a long process and it is also quite technical and bureaucratic not to mention time consuming and frustrating. So when you say 'Napo presence in CRCs seems to be limited' you are observing a profession in crisis and under considerable unrelenting pressure. Change upon change has exhausted union reps. Napo union activity in the NPS has fared marginally better not least because it has been tolerated as long as it remains institutionalised and bumps along in accordance with other professional associations whereas in some CRCs any union activity has been viewed as a systemic threat. David A Raho.

This from the Guardian:-

MPs seek reassurance after police chief says not all paedophiles should be jailed

A group of influential MPs has demanded “immediate reassurance” from a senior child protection officer after he suggested only paedophiles who pose a physical risk to children should face a criminal sentence. Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection, said police were struggling to cope with the huge numbers of criminals looking at indecent images of children online and should focus their resources on high-risk offenders.

“There are undoubtedly tens of thousands of men that are seeking to exploit children online with a view to meeting them, with a view to then raping them and performing the most awful sexual abuse upon them,” said Bailey, the head of Operation Hydrant, the nationwide inquiry into historical child sexual abuse. “That’s where I believe our focus has got to be. They are the individuals that pose the really significant threat.”

But in a strongly worded letter Yvette Cooper, the chair of the home affairs select committee, said its members would be “very alarmed” if “these changes in approach” were implemented straight away.

“As you will know, for many decades institutions have put children at risk because it was seen as too difficult, not a priority or resources were insufficient to keep them safe,” she wrote. “I would not want to see the same happen over online child abuse. Your comments that the police have reached ‘saturation point’ and ‘are not coping’ with the scale of paedophile offences were clearly of great concern to us.”

Bailey told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday that police officers were arresting 400 men a month, which was likely to be only the “tip of the iceberg”. But Cooper said there were greater monthly arrests for fraud, criminal damage, public order offences, theft and drug offences, and asked why police were struggling to cope with 400 sexual offences.

“This raises some very serious concerns about the scale of online child abuse, about the level of resourcing the police have available for it, about the systems the police has in place to deal with this new and increasing crime and also about the priority being given to it by police forces,” she wrote.

In an interview with the Times, Bailey, who is the chief constable of Norfolk, said: “Let’s be really clear: somebody going online and using their credit card to direct the abuse of a child in the Philippines should be locked up, categorically. That individual who is not in contact with children and doesn’t pose a threat to children and is looking at low-level images … when you look at everything else that’s going on, and the threat that’s posed of contact abuse to children, we have to look at doing something different with those individuals. Do the Crown Prosecution Service, the courts and the police have the capacity to put them into the justice system?”

But Cooper questioned if there was a significant number of “very low-risk” paedophile offenders unlikely to move on to contact abuse who could be easily identified by police. “[The] committee will be very concerned about any change in policing which puts more children at risk, or which prevents interventions that could keep more children safe,” she wrote.

Bailey argued that those viewing images could be dealt with using conditional cautions, such as requiring them to attend a rehabilitation course, be on the sex offender register and have no contact with children. He urged people accessing indecent images to self-refer to a helpline such as the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which works with paedophiles and encourages them to discuss their problem before they commit any abuse.

The helpline is confidential, but users are warned that if they talk about a child at risk, or a crime they have committed, that information will be passed on to the police.

Tom Squire, the clinical manager at the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which runs the Stop It Now helpline, said more resources were needed to help prevent abuse. “The scale of the problem is such that it makes sense for the police to prioritise the most serious offenders,” he said. “We know from the helpline that there are alternatives to going to prison that might be more effective in stopping people abusing.”

But the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC) said the proposals risked giving a “green light” to offenders to view indecent images of children. “There is no such thing as a victimless crime – every indecent image shows a child being attacked. It is a crime scene,” said Gabrielle Shaw, the chief executive of NAPAC. It could also diminish the deterrent effect that a possible prison sentence provides, as well as the importance to the victim of seeing their abuser brought to justice.”

An NSPCC report last year warned that as many as 500,000 people in the UK could be involved with sharing indecent images of children online. A spokesman cautiously welcomed the move. “It is clear from these staggering levels of recorded child sex offences that police have a huge number of cases to investigate, often with limited resources,” he said. “If we are to stem this tide and protect more children we must make prevention and rehabilitation a priority.”


  1. Probation haven't just been airbrushed from the records, they've been redacted from the history of criminal justice. Never existed.

  2. Finally realised just how completely dishonest politicians are. I'm spreading the word, anywhere, what's happened to probation and colleagues. We're 'led' by liars and crooks, cloaked in a veneer of 'respectability'. The corruption is endemic. Look,there goes another naked pompous idiot.

  3. Privateers who now have the major shareholding in probation services, have no interest in raising probations profile.
    It may risk financial penalty, or even worse attract more scrutiny of their operational models and invoicing practices.
    Privateers just don't want discussion in the media.


  4. NAPO used to have a voice and presence in Harry Fletcher alas no more

  5. In a world of ever decreasing resources that's target driven and outcomes are the metric used to calculate success, it's hardly surprising that the nature of the offences being committed become of secondary importance when prosecution is being considered.
    As disgusting and concerning as downloading child phonography is, prosecuting all the culprits will not achieve the targets required, or provide all the outcomes needed to suit the current metric of success.

  6. Will someone tell me what an indecent image of a child is. I was searching for a picture of an obscure place in Newfoundland. A long time ago, well the men were out fishing a forest fire swept down the hill and burned all the houses. When the men returned all they had was the possessions the women and children had removed from the houses and put on the beach. A triple whammy they still had to catch enough Cod to support them through the winter, make a shelter for their families to live in and survive the winter and no tree's for lumber close by.

    I found a picture someone's photo album on flikr I opened it and looked for more pictures, one showed three young girls say under ten paddling in the sea water thigh high, laughing an smiling, they wore nothing below the waist. Not an indecent image to me, but I am probably prudish, I would have kept the picture private not on the internet. But it suddenly occurred to me I could go to jail for seeing this, so I rapidly left to another page. Would the law think it was an indecent image?

    1. 14:43, are you aware of how disturbing your post sounds? If re-written it might go something like this:

      "I struggle with having an understanding of others' points of view & what they think is acceptable. I was searching for a picture of a distant galaxy. A long time ago some people experienced a tragedy. No idea why I wrote this. What I meant to write was...

      I was trawling through random strangers' photos online when I found pictures of naked children. "Ooh", I thought; then I thought "oops" & remembered I was on a SOPO so I rapidly deleted my search history.

      Would my post be tantalising? Would my PO recognise me? Will
      I be recalled to prison?"

    2. Yeah, knee-jerk 's/he's a paedophile - burn him!' hysteria is always a helpful response...

  7. There are categories of abusive images and these reflect the nature of content eg: is the child dressed/partially dressed, are they actually being abused in the image and, if so, what is the nature and extent of the abuse. There are other factors that link to conviction such as what was put in the search engine before the image appeared, was it accessed repeatedly or just once, was it one image or one of many etc etc. 'Happening upon' an abusive image is not likely to occur unless it is being actively sought/sent. I agree that any image like that which you have described has no place on the internet. All images on the internet are there forever. Those kids may one day find out about them and be devastated, however innocent the motives of those who posted them originally.

    1. Why are you looking at this like there is a glimmer of acceptability any subjugation of a child in any way that can be questioned outside of their innocence is unacceptable.
      The perpetrators of these crime would love your commentary to clutch their squalid behaviours on they are disgusting filth perverts and we all know it.

  8. I'm sure there's many probation Officer that would say similar about probation!

    "A police officer has published a damning resignation letter on social media criticising police for "putting their employees last".

    The letter

  9. I'm struck by this case happening now. A decision not to prosecute has ended in catastrophe.
    There are various agencies that are sure to feel the fallout, and I particularly feel sorry for the housing officer.
    As the perpetrator was on supervision will it form an SFO for probation, or will it be left to the police and DPP to do all the explaining?


    1. There should be a Serious Further Offence Review (not published) and a Domestic Homicide Review (published).

    2. Yes there will be an investigation because murder is a 'serious further offfnce'. The article says he was on licence to probation.

  10. It's not clear whether he was being supervised by NPS or CRC. Sentenced to 100 days and released homeless suggests CRC, yet the level of risk he was to considered to pose to the victim suggests NPS.
    The system is a mess.

  11. Miss Simpson was asked to work with Miss Korosi after Verebes admitted assaulting her in July last year. Jailed for 100 days, he was released on licence on September 13, two days before she was killed.