Computer Crime Research Center


Judge attacks child porn delays

Date: April 08, 2008
By: Jarrod Booker

A judge has criticised authorities for "unacceptable" delays that are allowing known users of child pornography to continue their offending.

But the Department of Internal Affairs says it is working "flat out" to combat the plague of child pornography with the resources it has.

Judge Chris Somerville's criticism was made in Ashburton District Court as he was sentencing a man for possessing child porn.

The man, farmer Robert Brian Fraser, was identified in December 2005, but it was seven months before a search warrant was used to enter his home and seize his computer, the Ashburton Guardian newspaper reported.

Fraser was found to have 2628 "objectionable" images on his computer.

They included some showing girls as young as one year old in graphic sexual acts with men, other children and animals.

The department says a delay of seven months is normal. It says it has to be thorough with its investigations to maintain its 99 per cent success rate in prosecuting people involved in child pornography.

But Judge Somerville said further abuse was being committed every day child porn offenders were left to operate.

"The people who access this material support an industry which abuses children," he said. "Every time the images are looked at these children are violated again and every time one of these images is stored to be viewed again.

"To allow 7 1/2 months, and doing so knowing that you violate these girls, that is an unacceptable double standard."

Internal Affairs' deputy secretary Keith Manch told the Herald the number of child porn offenders was increasing and its inspectors had to organise their workload "in the most efficient way possible".

"Their work is continuous and time-consuming and involves full analysis of what's on a suspect's computer," Mr Manch said.

"This is the key to attacking the overall problem and achieving a successful prosecution. While this is happening, the team continues to trawl the internet for further possible offenders.

"There is always a time lag between detecting possible offences and executing a search warrant. It would not be the most efficient use of resources to raid a suspect's home as soon as suspicions were raised."

ECPAT New Zealand, part of a global network working to the eliminate child pornography, feels the judge may not fully appreciate the pressures on Internal Affairs.

"It's good that the judge senses the urgency [child porn] needs to deal with," said national director Lyn Mayson.

"But the bigger picture is the workload of the Department of Internal affairs and the amount of stuff that is coming in."

Judges would be better to dwell on the lenient sentences given to people involved in the child porn trade and what message this was sending, Ms Mayson said.

Mr Manch said sometimes the department had to give priority to overseas offending "because we are part of an international operation against the child sex abuse trade".

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