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National Crime Agency boss admits being overwhelmed by scale of online paedophilia

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By John Glenday, Reporter

April 22, 2016 | 2 min read

The head of the National Crime Agency has warned that his organisation lacks the resources to target all paedophiles operating online, forcing it to advise low level offenders seek counselling rather than pursue criminal cases.

Lynne Owens said the problem of sexual exploitation of children online was now ‘too big to solve’ and that undercover investigators would now simply message suspects advising they seek help rather than seek to identify suspects due to the ‘massive’ volume of people involved in disseminating illegal material.

This would allow the crime agency to focus greater resources on identifying individuals responsible for the dissemination and creation of more extreme content.

Outlining the new policy Owens said: “[If] it looks like they’re not individually engaged in abusing children, they are just viewing the images, but we want them to stop, you can see it could be possible, with a whole load of ethical checks and balances, to try and make contact with them overtly and get them to engage with charities to improve their offending behaviour.

“I think we need to increase our focus on those who are involved in the actual abuse. One of the things we are now looking at is how confident could we be that somebody who is viewing images online is not abusing children themselves.”

Last year alone the Internet Watch Foundation identified and removed some 68,092 websites containing images of child sexual abuse, a 118 per cent increase on the figure for 2014.

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