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The Wonderland Club, Sunday 11 February 2001

The forum is now closed.
I have to say that was one of the most disturbing programmes I have ever watched. It was profoundly shocking, as were the sentences which were subsequently handed down. This is the kind of programme which ought to be essential viewing for any concerned parent.
Steve Noble
London

Regarding Tony Golding's suggestion about setting up an organisation to enable internet users to report illegal internet content: There already exists an organisation that enables users to do this. It's called the 'Internet Watch Foundation' and can be accessed at www.internetwatch.org.uk.
Richard Clark
London

Saw the programme, have been reading the news, I think these men are the same type of men who abused me 30 odd years ago but now they have the technology to take their depravity to even greater depths than even I, as a victim, could imagine.
Jacky R
Hull

That has got to be the most disturbing Panorama I have seen. Knowing that there are people operating material such as that makes me sick. Even while I type there's stuff like that getting passed around. GOD it really is disturbing!!!
John Smith

It is about damn time that someone exposed the hideous nature of the activity that goes on behind the closed doors of the internet. Well done BBC.
Dan Howells
Manchester

I couldn't watch your programme although I have read the transcript on the website and I think our heartfelt gratitude and thanks and encouragement has to go to all of those police and customs officers involved in tracking down this filth on a daily basis. I for one truly believe that in the case of crimes against children these people should be executed/hanged - I would willingly press that Button!!!
Julie

My boyfriend and I were completely disgusted by what we saw. How, in this day and age with the technology available to us now, can images like this be passed around on such a massive scale - unnoticed? We feel it is the responsibility of the internet provider to stop this happening. Globally, surely we pay high enough rates for some sort of vetting system to stop these issues. The guy from the internet company commented that not all sites display images corresponding to their titles but how can sex.babies.com mean anything other than indecent pictures of young children being tortured. One last comment, we could not believe the front of the guy who said that to their group it is not children being abused but children in relationships?
Kate & Scott
Plymouth

I am an ex police officer from Greater Manchester police. The police identify problems that society deem so that's required. Your programme was brilliant and multi -dimensional but not fully. What is the goal of television, to promote reaction or to examine intelligently human behaviour. Labelling something as fundamentally bad and reaching out to human fear is easy and risk free I guess. Why don't you ask why? David Hines never got the chance to say what links so many thousands of men. He was battered with judgment, spoke from the fear ridden masses. Is that what TV is? Isn't it noble to examine human behaviour from the viewpoint that we are all created equally. Why do we behave so and there lies the answers to addressing the ever lasting cycle of anti-social behaviour. That's the long term though and I guess figures motivate the actions of TV. TV cannot be great until it is looks clearly at what is. I am a film director and writer. Let me make the follow up - a programme that will cause ripples and be viewed by later generations as great work.
Andy Fruish
Manchester

Whilst I find these men totally beyond belief, and a good case of bringing back hanging, I feel, especially towards the end of the programme, a totally biased 'anti-internet' message being portrayed. Surely the blame lies not with the internet, but with the failing legal systems around the world. These perverts will always find a way to get hold of their hideous material, internet or not.
Greg Bengtson
Bognor Regis

I watched your programme and it made me feel sick. How can people do such vile things to children. How am I ever going to be able to let my children out to play with these sicko's roaming the streets. My son has only been at school 18 months and we've had 4 letters sent home about strange men hanging around at the school gates, 1 tried to entice a young boy into his car, but luckily the boy's father turned up just in time. The prison sentences handed out to these animals was unbelievable, what sort of deterrent is this, the law has got to be changed so that these people are locked up for life with no chance of early release. If I had my way I would bring back the death sentence for all crimes against children.
Steve Pope
Letchworth

This has made me realise what a terrible & cruel world we live in. As a new user of the internet I feel that without the internet these awful crimes could not be committed. I wonder was it a better world without it? I do only have great admiration for the National Crime Squad for the help in perhaps preventing even more atrocities happening in the future.
Esther Duggan
London

This is the first time in my life that I have written or commented on a TV programme but watching the programme was shocking. I felt sick and tears were in my eyes to think what those children went through. I was most distressed at the age of 6-9month babies being abused. How could someone do that to a child? Paedophiles should not be classed as human and should be hung or locked away for ever. I am a mother of two young children and feel scared for them as there is so much prevention in the world.
Mrs F Reid
Aberdeenshire

Everyone who has been appalled by this ought to email or write to their MP in order for action to be taken. Tougher sentences for criminals as well as hefty fines for ISP's who do not monitor their sites more diligently would go some way to helping resolve this. There ought to be a kind of internet 'neighbourhood watch' scheme set up whereby anyone who surfs the net and finds such material or knows of anyone dealing in it could send details of dangerous sites and people to a central office for them to take action.
Colin
Nottingham

I watched the programme although it was an extremely painful experience to do so. I would like to express my immense thanks to all the team involved in the search for an end to this horrific crime on the innocent. I don't have any answers but I'm sure any help in changes to the law in making it any easier for the crime unit to get at these offenders can only be a good move. The general public needs to be aware of what is going on, more observant and more honest. If they suspect someone they need to speak up sooner, it could save many children's lives and enable them to have a normal childhood which is what they were entitled to in the first place before these dangerous people thought they knew what was best for the child!
Linda Marshall
Scunthorpe

My girlfriend didn't want to watch the programme as she would get too upset. I felt I had to watch and sat through it with a knot in my stomach. I did not sleep very well Sunday night and cannot get them poor kids out of my head. We need to keep up this kind of reporting so people are more vigilant and aware what goes on outside their front door, well done Panorama!
Patrick Henderson
Merseyside

A lot of people here, probably acting more on emotion than common sense, want to prosecute the ISP's. That is absurd! If the postman unknowingly delivers child porn through the mail, unopened, should the Post Office then be prosecuted? Even worse, should the Post Office be allowed to open mail at random and check the contents, 'just in case'? If ISP's in the UK are made responsible, then they will simply close down to avoid prosecution. The UK is already far enough behind other countries where the internet is concerned, such a move would be another nail in the IT coffin.
Steve
Hull

Like most of the contributors here, I too was horrified at the activities of the Wonderland club described in Panorama. That anyone can be that cruel to children, indeed babies and toddlers, is utterly beyond belief. To those blaming the ISPs for encouraging the spread of child porn on the net, please put yourself in their position. With over 100,000 newsgroups and around 200,000,000 news items per week flowing through their machines, what exactly do you expect them to do about it? Monitoring even a small fraction of this is utterly impossible. Most ISPs already DO remove the obviously paedophile-related newsgroups, as well as others that might attract illegal items (such as sex with animals). But the basic problem is, even if ISPs could control what gets through, who decides where the lines are drawn? For example should 'alt.binaries.pictures.nudism' be removed. This newsgroup features nudist/naturist photographs, many of them of families including children. Is portraying a nudist lifestyle not permissible? Why should ISPs be asked to make such moral judgments? Finally I should perhaps admit that I was convicted some years ago for possessing indecent images of children (I got a probation sentence). However, the images were (at least in my opinion) 'artistic nudes' (many of the images were by photographers such as David Hamilton), certainly nothing like the dreadful stuff described in the programme. Also, I have never abused a child in any way and would never do so. Neither have I re-offended. Obviously I am biased, but I really do not think any useful purpose would be served by locking me up for life!
Pete
London

A very informative programme, and a very disturbing background. I was shocked to discover that the 'wonderland group' would be so close to my home.
Bob Millard
Stockport

Overall I found your programme most excellent. Within the obviously electric-tense atmosphere of the entire research and reportage however, don't you think it a little ridiculous to explain how to find the very images you rightly decry? This may be a pedantic observation, but I think you could've been a little more circumspect with the details of how to access paedophile newsgroups - instead of listing them and indeed showing screenshots of lists of them, what would have been wrong with saying 'within seconds of a search for key phrases, a list of sites / newsgroups can be found'. Or am I missing something? Thank you for an effective and disturbing programme. I hope no-one gets the idea to follow your inadvertent clues though.
Gerry Black
Eindhoven (The Netherlands)

I have read a few of the comments on this forum and a few people are missing the point. It's not all blamed on the internet, the web is a media which allows individuals to promote their filth. However we must be thankful in some ways that the net is a media for them, at least these morons can be tracked and seen. There are no doubt many cases which are done in a stealth fashion, for which the police do a superb job in trying to trace. The big issue I feel is the powers of Judges, the new 10 year sentence is just not good enough, A rape can get an individual 14 years, however you can rape a child and get next to nothing. This form of child abuse should carry a mandatory life sentence for those who choose to carry out such actions. May I thank those Police officers who have to deal with such issues, for them the images will stay for a lifetime and they deserve our full support. well done
Terry
Swindon

My wife and I watched Panorama with complete and utter bewilderment, we are still in a state of shock. The programme made my mind race with questions; How can 3 years be right, and then their not getting that! What resources are going in to tracking the men down? I feel enough isn't being done, politically the will isn't there. We're led to believe the internet is this revolutionary new technology that will change the world, but change the world into what?
Glenn Beaumont
Nottingham

Watching your programme about The Wonderland Club has sickened me, how can these people do this to children. Why can't Tony Blair see how sick and dangerous these people are? I think they should get life in prison and life should mean life, not just three years. Something has to be done soon or it will still carry on.
Vanessa Dailly
Luton

Isn't it time the government formed a working party to look at paedophilia and look at all the research done in various countries, on treatment, rehabilitation etc. If the final answer, as we often hear, is that these people are not curable, and that they often re-offend, then maybe its time to admit that the only option is very long sentences. The methods so far do not seem to show any decrease in the numbers of paedophiles or crimes, isn't that a sign they┐re not working? Money presently going to help offenders, if its proved to be of no use, should go on helping victims, something which should have been done when victims first appeared many years ago. Let┐s get the balance right and help the victims and not the offender.
Eelco
Netherlands

I just wanted to say that your programme has really opened my eyes. Very, very disturbing. The faces of the police and the computer experts told their own stories. All those concerned must be commended for their powers of endurance. I've just heard that the Wonderland men have received less than 3 piddling years apiece - for peddling images of THE most filthily evil behaviour imaginable! Is this appropriate justice? At least the law has changed now, which may deter some offenders. Thanks Panorama, for bringing this out into the light.
Siona Holloway

Reading your article I had an idea that may help in identifying some of these children. The children could be edited out of the picture leaving the rest of the picture to be put on a website that could be accessed by the general public around the world who could then help to identify the area where the photo was taken?? - Yes/No
Coward Samuel
Chamonix

The programme showed the huge amount of work that is needed to stop this paedophile activity. The programme graphically illustrated the lack of self-regulation by the industry. It is patently obvious to many of us that that the ISPs have to take more responsibility for their actions. Failing that legislation must allow for the ISPs to be prosecuted if they fail in that responsibility. If they were a normal publishing house they would undoubtedly be prosecuted. Disturbingly, many of those interviewed for the programme admitted that the internet was responsible for encouraging their behaviour!
Gavin Good
Rawtenstall

While I deplore the activity of those who have recently been convicted, I hope this does not give ammunition to those who are determined to destroy every last vestige of privacy that citizens are entitled to. The Internet depends on its uncensored nature to be so successful, such as to enable repressed minorities to speak out and I certainly hope that no enforced Internet censorship or infringements of privacy will be introduced.
Chris
Exeter

This has to be the most disturbing edition of Panorama I've ever seen. However I think the wider issue is less clear - of course paedophilia is wrong, and abusing children to produce pornography is wrong, but is mere possession of images wrong? After all the writings of De Sade which are as, if not more, depraved are freely and legally available from every bookshop.
Nick
Reading

The whole issue of 'taking these perverts off the net' was terribly reported - The ISPs were asked why they allowed alt.sex.paedophilia, simple - because if the banned it all the pervs would move to alt.landscape-gardening or some other similarly innocent sounding group. The point is that you can never take these people off the net - how about stopping them abusing kids in the first place.
Anon

Appalled, angry and extremely upset at the poor sentencing of the paedophiles of the Wonderland group. The fact that the Judge identified that these men were directly and indirectly responsible for the suffering of children, and yet failed to sentence or treat this offence with the sensitivity it deserves is beyond my comprehension. I believe that a referendum o the subject of capital punishment for paedophilia and drug baron smuggling should be forthcoming as liberalism is so patently failing those who should be THE most protected by law and justice.
M H Gunnill
Bedfordshire

I think it's disgusting that these dirty parasites only got three years of which they will serve 15 months of. Why is it that our government is so lax with these people, in America they get at least 100 years for just touching a child!
Toni Deas
Scunthorpe

While I applaud the programme for identifying the extent of the problem on the Internet, I think the spokesman from the ISPs was treated disgracefully. He was asked a question and attempted to answer it several times only to be talked over by Jane Corbin. The role of the interviewer is to ask a question and listen to the answer, not present his/her own opinions.
David
Warrington

I was so disturbed that I could not sleep after watching the programme. Children are so very precious. How could a 'human being' do this to another human being. Something needs to be done by the service providers and the law NOW. What can we do to help this happen?
Patsy Jordan
London

I don't believe that enough effort is being made to catch these sick people. And why when they are caught, they serve the type of sentence that a petty thief would receive. This is not Justice, it seems as though we are protecting these people. I would like to know why our government doesn't seem to be taking any action against it either.
Robert James
Harlow

Well done to the BBC for exposing these sick people. I think its about time that this goverment brought back in the death penalty only for this crime. It should go to the public to vote it in because the sentences that they received are just laughable - most of them know if they get 3yrs they will serve only 18months. I think Panorama should do a telephone vote to see what the public want and then present the result to this government.
Mrs Debra Dickinson
Sheffield

I thought your 'Wonderland' programme was excellent except that it may well contribute to unthinking vigilante prejudice and make it more difficult for paedophiles to get help. There was no attempt to discuss or understand why people become paedophiles. You mentioned that one had been abused himself but that was all. As long as you show programmes that only show how awful human behaviour can be you just encourage people to become angry and that can prevent them from understanding and so working towards being able to prevent it. It's so easy to complain about the behaviour, the point, however, is to change it - or at least to contribute to a general atmosphere where change and rehabilitation becomes possible. This may be asking a lot of a programme like Panorama but at least the issue can be raised. Perhaps you can follow up the programme with one which does help people understand. It may even help potential paedophiles from actually becoming criminals.
Roy Cox
London

In an otherwise excellent Panorama edition, I believed the use of some of the close up images was wrong. The descriptions from investigators were all too haunting but to show children in abuse situations was a mistake.
Danny Cleary
London

Probably the most important programme that I have seen produced by Panorama in years, definitely needs primetime weekday viewing - this is just too important an issue to be shunted into a Sunday night backwater slot. One of the most disturbing facts that I learnt was the maximum sentence for these offences is three years and that the law is being changed to allow judges to pass a maximum sentence of only ten years. I think I'm right in saying that I did not see one member of the judiciary or member of parliament invited to pass comment on this type of offence, that speaks for itself. The law needs a shake up from top to bottom - these offences should carry a mandatory life sentence. It will be interesting to see the sentences that are passed down to these individuals, will they be the maximum permissible, we shall see. The best possible course of action for the police is to immediately reopen the case to examine the possibility of fresh/extra charges being brought against the same people in the hope that further charges will attract the new and longer jail terms. Take note, you only had to look at the expression of and listen to the tone of voice of one of the 'club' members interviewed last night to know that it will not be long before they are back in business.
John Smedley
Nottingham

What a shocking story to have to tell. It makes you wonder what sort of society we live in today. How people can perform these disgusting acts on innocent children is way beyond me. The law has to be far tougher on these sort of crimes. Sentences of three years are no where near enough, as the guilty are likely to be released early. A life sentence must now be the normal outcome for these sort of crimes.
Steve Fuller
Brighton & Hove

As a 14 year old boy, I cannot appreciate the responsibilities of caring for my own child, but I can honestly say that last night's programme just showed what kind of people are on the streets of Britain and indeed in other countries as well. How can someone destroy the life of a helpless and entirely innocent human being. How I would overcome such a trauma I do not know. It made me feel so angry that I was so powerless to stop them and that they are, as I am writing, engaging in pictures of vulgarity and rape. I would also like to congratulate the various organisations in the capture of a lot of the 'Wonderland' members and say, from the evidence in the programme, what a success the operation was. Hopefully in time, we will, as a morale and law abiding nation, eject such abusive personalities out of every society and live our lives knowing that our future children will be safer.
Alex Muzyczka
Sheffield

I only caught the last 15 minutes of your programme which was more than enough. I found it very disturbing and I can't remove the image of that one year old child toddling around in his nappy. Although you did not show the abuse the very thought that someone could hurt that little child in anyway is absolutely horrendous. Please please do not let your work end with the programme. You have done a good thing in highlighting this issue. It is an issue that is so horrendous for us to contemplate that we tend to shy away from it, but the only way to deal with something like this is to face up to it. It angers me so much to see people put so much passion and effort into protecting animals and trees when its our children we would be thinking of first. People have lost all sense of their priorities. When an issue like this is highlighted the issue of the fox is gone. Please carry on your good work, please do more to highlight this issue and make people sit up and take notice and, more importantly, take more care and thought over our children than anything else in this world.
G Daisley
Londonderry

Thanks to the Internet, several tens of dangerous paedophiles are now in custody. This would probably not have happened pre-Internet. It is odd the Net is not ever viewed that way. As for banning News group names, which would people prefer, well signposted cess pits or excreta all over the place, where they & their children might be treading? What do these people want? A ban on the way Newsgroups work? There would be other ways. You might as well ask for a ban on paper post, or a complete ban on photography in order to 'combat' the problem. The stupid thing is, apart from the obvious downside, the paedophilia problem would be much worse. Paedophiles would be much harder to convict, and operate in smaller, but much more numerous and dangerous circles. Mankind invented photography, paper post, and now the uncensored Internet. The Net is obviously no solution to age old problems, but it can be a powerful tool to assist in the fight against them. Let us not small mindedly cripple such a tool.
Richard Kemp
Ysbyty Ystwyth

This thing has been going on for years and years and nobody did anything about it. I just wonder how the people will send the pics now since MIRC is no longer a place to trade pictures, they will probably start using the mail server and they properly use that as well since it is hard to trace.
Paul
Glasgow

I was deeply upset and moved by the programme. My heart goes out to the children, families and the crime squads whom worked on the Wonder club case. I suggest all of us write to our own ISP/internet server and ask what they are doing to stop any sites carrying child abuse. After reading the comments on the programme I will be reading and looking into the Anti Child Pornography organisation site www.acpo.org.
Liz
Luton

This scale of this vile activity is astounding and looks set to increase as its despicable participants become more and more 'hooked'. I believe that the sentencing for paedophilic crimes in this country does absolutely nothing to deter these inadequate and hateful individuals. If the sentence of 'LIFE IMPRISONMENT' is given - why on earth does it not mean that the paedophile stays in prison for the rest of his life? All that I have read and seen on television indicates that these people cannot be rehabilitated in any way as they do not believe that what they do is wrong - physically or morally. In fact the evidence seems to show that incarcerating them in segregation allows them to share and perfect their hideous fantasies amongst themselves for practice when they are released. I really think that Panorama could follow this excellent programme with another about what happens to these individuals on release back into society. I think both the public and the judiciary could learn a lot. Well done to Panorama for public service and excellent and courageous presentation.
Caroline Cunningham
London

Child sexual abuse can be stopped. A model for the prevention of child sexual abuse has existed for around four years in Vermont USA. Professionals are just waking up to that fact and have set up a working party to introduce the model in the UK. We started two years ago here and STOP IT NOW! Northern Ireland is receiving cross party support in the Assembly and around 90% from the public in the form of signatures to our petition for the introduction of community notification laws, changes in the law to take account of victims views and funding for communities to introduce their own prevention measures. This is a community led initiative representing individuals and community groups. Together we can bring and end to child sexual abuse within a generation - blubber@lineone.net
Leslie Bedell
Toomebridge

As a molest victim whose 1968 pictures were published on the Web, I think the punishment for molestation should be death. It completely ruined my life, and beyond the personal pain, and dysfunctional self-defeating behaviour, it has cost me thousands of dollars paying for therapy, and medication, sometimes getting ripped off by Freudian quacks who don't believe molestation happens. As a child, and as an adult, I have been labelled as "crazy" for the harm someone else did me, because no one wanted to believe me. Remember, boys molested as children without treatment, often grow up to become molesters (or worse) themselves.
Anonymous
USA

Congratulations to the police for such thorough work. Everyone seems to agree that the short sentences are disgraceful. But instead of objecting as individuals, is there not a group who could really put pressure on the govt. to change the whole sentencing procedure for crimes involving children. If we really want to change things, we should join or begin such a group, preferably with a well known public figure, as Ester Rantzen was for child abuse, but this time with the sole purpose to GET THESE SENTENCES LENGTHENED. There is always strength in numbers, we need to find out who we target to get the laws changed, now and for the future. When you see the passion animal rights protesters have for their cause, we should be ashamed that we do not stand up for the rights of children as strongly and get these people put away for a long time. And get rid of the people in the legal profession or wherever who think its OK to give 3 year sentences. They are almost as disgusting as the paedophiles.
Janet
Netherlands (ex-UK)

My disgust and anger was heightened after hearing that many of the men awaiting sentence may only serve a few months in detention. When are we going to have any sense of justice, we seem to be more pre-occupied with the theft of mobile phones or money compared with the abuse and torture suffered by those most innocent in our society. I can only think that the political will to change the law is not there, and if not, why not? The victims of these crimes will have to live with the consequences for the rest of their lives. The only question I want answered is "Why can these criminals not be detained indefinitely, where are our human rights"?
Andrew McNaughton
Dorking

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