Top officer calls on courts for harsher paedophile sentences

Det Sgt Paul Hutchins
Det Sgt Paul Hutchins
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THE TOP cop investigating “absolutely disgusting” online paedophiles in Lincolnshire has revealed he often leaves court “deflated” at weak sentences handed out by judges.

Det Sgt Paul Hutchins has said this country needs tougher sentences like Australia and the USA where paedophiles who download indecent child images can get put behind bars for up to 40 years.

He thinks we need to have sentences that actually deter people from committing these crimes – some convicted sex offenders in this country do not even go to prison.

Last year Lincolnshire Police seized five million indecent images of children – more than three times the number in 2010. Det Sgt Hutchins said “it makes you shudder”.

The officer – who has nearly 30 years’ experience investigating major crimes in this county – said: “We often come away quite deflated by sentences given by the court.

“The actual impact of these crimes is just awful. On the end of every image there’s a victim and the destruction that it does. It’s absolutely disgusting.

“You have to have sentences that deter people. Sentencing in Australia and the USA is a lot stronger than ours – people who collect and distribute images can get 20, 30 or even 40 years. It’s astonishing.

“Our primary role is to safeguard children. The rest is with the court and there isn’t a lot any of us can do about it.

“We all know the prisons are overcrowded and they’re not going to build new ones. We know their hands are tied but I would like someone to get 20 years.”

Det Sgt Hutchins is in charge of Lincolnshire Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation Team, set up in May 2011.

He said research shows that 85 per cent of people who commit image offences have already committed a hands-on offence with a child.

He said: “Already this year we’ve seized two collections of 747,000 and 800,000. That’s 1.5 million victims.”