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The rise in sex crime

The level of sex crime is at an historic high in Scotland where prosecutors report that sex crime accounts for 80% of the case load in the High Court of Justiciary.

The most senior judge in England and Wales, The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, said that sex offence cases are on the rise and could not be explained merely as historical cases coming to light. “Some of the images of pornography are beyond belief in what they show and it undoubtedly does have an effect on people.” Although he was referring to the negative impact of such material on judges, it is equally applicable to the general population who are watching significant amounts.

Porn is big business. The ready availability of cheap and easy access to internet porn along with its relative anonymity have made smartphones a ‘must have’ commodity and medium of easy entertainment.

More Brits watch their porn on smartphones than on computers. 62% of children ages 12-15 have smartphones according to a 2013 Ofcom report.

The brain numbing effect of chronic overuse of internet pornography, especially in the immature brains of adolescents, can result in compulsive and impulsive behaviour that can lead to a sexual offence.

Even in the absence of sexual assault, a person can be convicted of a serious crime. For instance, one young male celebrity, we’ll call him Bob, was convicted of possession of child pornography due to the number of nude pictures he had on his smart phone. These were photos sent to him via Facebook and other social media by children posing as older teenagers. Even though he did not meet these girls, possession alone was enough for him to be put on trial.

The consequences of a conviction for a sexual offence such as possession of child pornography will almost certainly be notification on the Sex Offenders Register. What does this mean in practice for someone like Bob?

It means he will lose his high profile, lucrative career. He will not be able to obtain a visa to take his girlfriend to Disneyland in the US or anywhere else abroad. If later on they have their own children, he will be subject to ongoing surveillance by social workers even after his name comes off the Sex Offenders Register. All this happened because of his ignorance about the law and possibly some youthful vanity at the interest of so many adoring, young wannabe WAGs determined to have a share of celebrity lifestyle.

Making young people aware of these risks today is critical. It is not just ‘stranger danger’ and the fear of online grooming that caregivers need to be vigilant about, but the harm their children are causing to themselves unknowingly just chasing thrills on their smartphone, and doing what ‘everyone else’ seems to be doing. Internet pornography affects the brain quite differently from TV or porn magazines and DVDs.

Possession or distribution of sexually arousing images of children is illegal. If you find yourself watching these and are concerned, contact the charity Stop it Now! Helpline or the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.  Even if you do not intend to meet a child for the purpose of sexual contact, possession of images alone can lead to a visit from the police. Contact these charities too if you have already been approached by the police.

This is a general guide to the law and does not constitute legal advice.

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