Viewers of child sex abuse could lose homes
Children’s charities urge Michael Gove to look at US–style laws forcing internet paedophiles to pay damages
People who view images of child sex abuse could lose their homes or pensions under new US-style laws being proposed by a powerful coalition of children’s charities which is demanding action from the British government.
The Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety—which includes the likes of the NSPCC, Barnardo’s, Action for Children and the Children’s Society—will on Monday publish an open letter to Michael Gove, the justice secretary, urging him to study legislation being drafted in America that would force internet paedophiles to make financial reparations for their actions.
The Amy and Vicky Act, which has been passed by the Senate and is now before the House of Representatives, seeks to secure damages for victims of online paedophiles who possess indecent images of them.
The act would force offenders to pay damages that would help their victims to pay for medical services, therapy, lost income and legal fees. The act was drawn up following a supreme court case in which a victim, known only as “Amy”, sought $3.4m in damages from a man who had been convicted of possessing images of her. Her claim was unsuccessful, but the court backed the notion that she should be entitled to some level of damages.
Legal experts who back a law change say it recognises that the viewing and sharing of child abuse images exacerbates the harm inflicted on victims by creating a potentially permanent record of the abuse.
John Carr, the coalition’s secretary, said a new law was urgently needed. Estimates suggest that paedophiles in the UK alone could be holding between 150 million and 360 million images of child abuse. “Conventional law enforcement methods are not working in this area, so we have to look for new deterrents,” Carr said. “I think this could be a very effective one. If guys know they could lose their house or their pension, they’ll think twice.”
Carr said there was a precedent for such forms of reparation. “Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, villains are made to forfeit their ill-gotten gains. By analogy, here is a mechanism to force a different kind of villain to pay for what they have done to an innocent child.”
Read the full article at theguardian online: Viewers of child sex abuse could lose homes.U.K.-Childrens-Charties-Letter