In the past, those who view live-streamed child sexual abuse have sometimes been given lighter sentences if the authorities could not prove a recording was made. New plans, laid out in the Queen’s speech will close the loophole in the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and will introduce sanctions for professionals who turn a blind eye to child sexual abuse.
Christian Berg, CEO at NetClean, expert in the tracking, alerting and analysis of child sexual abuse commented:
“Live-streamed child sexual abuse is a horrifying example of how abusers are hijacking the services and technologies we all use. These individuals are early adopters and are turning child sexual abuse into a sophisticated online enterprise.
Live-streamed abuse often occurs in countries with poor social services provision, however the crime of watching and consuming this abuse happens worldwide. Closing this loophole is a great step forward from a legal perspective, but the work to track and analyse this method of abuse is still in its infancy.
Live-streamed abuse is a crime that is extremely hard to detect and investigate. It is rapid, instantaneous and crimes are taking place simultaneously around the world. Already our law enforcement services are playing technological catch-up to a rapidly evolving crime type. They need greater resources, better information sharing, consistent enforcement and greater support from the technology industry.
As a society we need to evolve our attitude to online child sexual abuse and accept that each of these images and videos is a crime-scene. Even our terminology, ‘child pornography’, legitimises this hugely damaging victimisation and serious crime as a sexual predilection. The sanctions for those who turn a blind eye are a hugely positive step in encouraging our mutual responsibility. But in reality we can’t just look to social services, teachers and doctors to identify and stop abuse. It starts in every community.”