Police warn child pornography users in effort to prevent worse

Police have issued personal warnings to dozens of people who have downloaded child pornography on their computers in effort to deter them from becoming further embroiled in the trade.

Some 95 people were given a warning during a week-long campaign, which ended on Friday. These people are not guilty of sharing material, or downloading new material, police said and although downloading child pornography is an offence, they were not arrested.

“Research has shown that people who start to download this kind of material can continue to become  abusers of children themselves. Early intervention can break that cycle,” Annemiek van Noord, head of the prevention of child pornography and child sex tourism unit said.

The police also searched 55 addresses based on information about large-scale possession of indecent material and impounded over 400 computers. The public prosecutor’s office will decide later if the material found on them is grounds for a criminal investigation.

The week’s concerted effort is a clear signal to perpetrators, Van Noord said. “The most common reaction is one of shock but also relief that have been caught. One of the men said he would use the warning as a new start, and another said it forced him to talk about it and seek help,” she said.

If the warning is ignored and people continue to download child pornography they will face prosecution, police said.

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