A judge has come forward and spoken to the press to say that current guidelines for sentencing paedophiles are far too lenient.

Under the current legislation, Judge Ticehurst felt he had no choice but to let a paedophile who had over 2 million child abuse videos, walk free. 

The article tells us that the collection of videos was so large officers were unable to categorise them all. Shortly after being bailed, the suspect then went home and downloaded a further 2,231 sexual photos and videos of girls aged 8-16. The suspect told the police that he did not view the girls in the videos as human.

Judge Ticehurst wanted to impose a jail term and a rehabilitation order, but suggested that he could not do both. As a result of national guidelines, he could have imposed a two year sentence, but the convicted paedophile would only have to serve six months – not enough time to complete treatment within a rehabilitation order.

Whilst some might argue that people who wish to look at child pornography should have the right to do so as long as they don’t assault children in the real world, the act of watching what is really child sexual abuse fuels a demand and places children at risk of exploitation in order to satisfy that demand. The law has been put in place to try to address this issue and deter people from watching and downloading images and videos of child abuse. But the law is not working.

Part of the reason why the law is failing to protect children in this context has to do not only with the overly lenient sentences which still exist, mainly because they don’t allow judges the opportunity to imprison convicted paedophiles for terms which protect the public, in this case minors, from visual and physical exploitation, but also because the law is not very effective when used as a deterrent. We know that some paedophiles are not put off by the law, as they continue to download images and videos and also physically assault children in the real world.

There is huge debate over whether paedophilia is a mental illness, and when paedophiles sexually assault children whether they can be cured of their urges. To date, science and psychiatry have not been able to offer any concrete solutions, with controversial ideas like castration and libido reducing  drugs being at the forefront of today’s debate on the issue.

The law in this area does need to be looked at, though. At the end of last year we wrote an article for Lexis Nexis about this, looking at sentences for paedophiles both in recent and non recent child abuse cases. 

There’s lots of work to do.


Judge David Ticehurst