PAEDOPHILES should not be prosecuted for watching child abuse videos but be sent on “diversion courses” instead, a shock report says.
The plan would see thousands of sickos viewing vile images of kids let off the hook as figures show sexual offences have more than tripled in 11 years.
According to the controversial proposal, offenders should be sent on awareness workshops – to “ease the strain on the criminal justice system”.
The soft-touch approach comes as it emerged a record 159,740 rapes and sex attacks were reported in the UK last year – compared to 52,166 in 2008.
This increase has put pressure on resources, leading to the collapse of a series of rape trials after late disclosure of evidence to the defence, says the report by think-tank Justice, which is overseen by retired judge Peter Rook.
Justice plans to place offenders who have no convictions for sexual or violent crimes who view child sexual abuse online for the first time on a “deferred prosecution scheme”.
To avoid prosecution, offenders would attend educational meetings and agree to be “good”.
They would be expected to complete five sessions of up to 90 minutes over four months – and one follow-up class eight months later.
If participants don’t complete the course, they’ll be prosecuted, the report states.
Those suspected of more serious offences would not qualify.
The report said: “For some types of sexual offending, prosecution and prison can be ineffective. It is often the shock of the arrest and confirmation that what they are doing is wrong that causes these individuals to stop offending.
“The scheme would be just as effective as a post-conviction sentence, if not more, without the need to use court and prosecution resources.”
Each month, police investigate around 1,000 cases of offenders viewing child abuse images.
Peter Saunders, from the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, said: “Why would we consider not prosecuting some of the most vile criminals in society just because we can’t cope with the numbers?”
Other proposals in the report include increased use of voluntary “chemical castration” and calls for a internet companies to report what they are doing to stop sexual offences.
A director of a company that fails to do this should be held criminally liable, the paper says.
A Government spokesman said: “Those who pose a low risk to children can already be given cautions with tough conditions attached by the police, if prosecutors agree.”
In April, the Sun on Sunday revealed police have let off more than 1,000 perverts with just a slap on the wrist.