Should An Abuser Be Allowed To Retain Images of Their Victims

Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Martyn Underhill

Abusers choose to abuse. They make conscious decisions, they make choices. Victims don’t choose to be victims, it happens to them, they don’t have a say. They don’t get a choice.

As Dorset’s Police and Crime Commissioner, I am very aware that we have a choice to help protect our victims. It is my top priority.

That is why I have launched my first government e-petition. Please sign here

Last week I came across a concerning case here in Dorset, which I believe highlights how victims are being let down. This particular case involves a man convicted for sexual abuse. When he was arrested, his laptop was seized by the Police. Now the man is convicted and the case is over, the man is asking for his laptop back.

The laptop contains images of his victims which were not deemed indecent. The law states that the police have to return the equipment in its original condition.

So here is the catch.

Should an abuser, a person who has sexually assaulted victims, be allowed to retain images of his victims? Think of the trauma this causes to the victims. And think of the control and power this gives the abuser. I think this story is repugnant.

I am therefore working to raise these issues with government and a national charity is helping the victims fight the return of the images on the computer through the courts.

My question to Government is this – How can we protect victims of sexual abuse if current legislation allows perpetrators to keep images of them?

This is not the fault of the police. The legislation is wrong. It is double jeopardy for victim’s photos to be viewed by their abuser – it opens old wounds.

A victim cannot start the healing process, knowing that the person who abused them has images of them on a device. It is a continuation of the trauma. These victims need better protection and I will lobby Government to change a fundamental error in the law.

What do you think?

If you agree, please sign my petition here

Martyn Underhill

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