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BBC Scotland's Isabel Fraser reports
"Pressure is mounting for a more sophisticated legal response to net crime"
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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 19:18 GMT 20:18 UK
Anger at child porn sentence
Hands on computer keyboard
A computer engineer escaped a jail sentence
Court sentences for people downloading images of child pornography are to be reviewed by three appeal judges after a ruling that it could be interpreted as a "victimless crime".

The ruling has angered child protection agencies and internet experts who have branded it as dangerous.

Children's charities said a sentence imposed on a computer engineer who downloaded child pornography from the internet was too soft.

James Finlay, 30, of Newbattle Abbey Crescent, Eskbank, in Dalkeith, was fined 500 at Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Monday.

Colin Rose
Colin Rose disputes the notion of a "victimless crime"
His defence lawyer had cited a previous appeal court ruling which said the downloading of such material could be interpreted as a "victimless crime".

But internet security expert Colin Rose said the sentence was ill-judged.

Mr Rose works for Actis Technology, which advises police forces around the world on how to fight child porn.

The controversial legal judgement said that although Finlay had accessed child porn pictures in his own home, nothing he had done had had a direct effect on any other person, and in that sense it was a victimless crime.

But Mr Rose said: "No matter what type of crime you associate with child pornography, whether it is possession, whether it's making it, whether it's distribution, it all contributes to the market and the market in child pornography means people will try to exploit that and make child pornography."

Margaret McKay
Margaret McKay said every image represented an abused child
ChildrenFirst said the appeal judges' review must reflect public concern and give guidance on how the issue should be dealt with in court.

The charity's Margaret McKay said: "It is outrageous to suggest that pornographic images of children represent a victimless crime.

"Every pornographic image involving a child is in fact a picture, an image, of a child who is being abused, and that cannot possibly be seen to be a victimless crime."

The Scottish Executive has already pledged to tighten the child pornography laws, increasing the potential sentences for possession from two years to 10 years in line with legislation in England.

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18 Apr 01 | Scotland
Scots to join cybercrime fight
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