To stop paedophiles, we need to help them. But no one wants to hear that

Simon Bailey, the head of Operation Hydrant, which investigates historical cases of child sexual abuse, says police are being overwhelmed by the number of cases. He believes that alternative approaches must be found for dealing with “less serious offenders” – including paedophiles who look at images of child abuse online – and argues that “low-risk” offenders should not be imprisoned. He knows, he says, that people will find this pragmatic approach difficult to hear. He’s right about that.

But what’s really difficult to hear is an argument in favour of greater resources being put into combating child sexual abuse. Bailey appears to accept that cloth must be cut according to its width. He understands that people won’t want to accept that there isn’t enough money to deal with this problem. But he refuses to make an argument for more money himself. Bailey’s solution to this blight is dispiritingly bureaucratic. He wants some of the strain to be moved elsewhere.

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