Many questions for Ore

Many dangers await if the problems besetting Operation Ore are not
speedily resolved. The most obvious is that, despite the urgent
need to indicate society’s condemnation, and halt the market for
child sexual abuse on the internet, nothing will be achieved. Those
who abuse children will gain confidence, and it will become even
easier for those who want such images to feed their desires and
thereby increase the risk they pose.

Currently, a list of suspects exists but investigating them is
taking far too long, without significant numbers of charges being
brought, giving those on the list plenty of warning to cover their
tracks. Networks of offenders are already sharing advice about
evading detection.

If a reputation for unreliability attaches to evidence of internet
pornography, more dangers await. We know abusers use other types of
evidence that lack credibility – the testimony of very young
children, or witnesses who believe they have participated in
Satanism or other rituals – as a smokescreen in court to discredit
other claims against them. We must not destroy the credibility of
technological evidence in the same way, creating more places to

Those with experience in the field of child sexual abuse will also
fear the public opinion backlash. Is the large-scale investigation
of pornography users an over-reaction? Isn’t it true that many of
the images are computer-generated anyway? Are those who simply view
such images, rather than record them, really committing abuse? Is
Operation Ore a witch-hunt? Can there really be so many people
involved? As the credibility of Operation Ore comes into question,
so inevitably will the credibility of its aims and of the
assumptions behind its existence. Questions are being asked already
– and Operation Ore hasn’t even started to tackle those suspects
closest to the establishment.

The fact that police forces were given no extra funding for
Operation Ore is astonishing. The proper resourcing of Operation
Ore is essential in order to ensure the information technology
revolution does not increase the dangers to children, both as
primary victims of acts which are broadcast on the internet and as
victims of a lowering of inhibitions and even a creeping denial of
the seriousness of child sexual abuse in certain contexts.

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