Advice and Support for Internet Sexual Offenders and their Families

If you are being Investigated for Internet Sexual Offences

What will Happen now?...

The police will have received information that has led to the investigation. As part of the investigation they will have visited your address. It is likely that they have removed your computer, mobile devices and other material. 

This might take some time to deal with. The police will do whatever is required to investigate any offences you may have committed, including examining what is held on your devices. The length of time this takes will vary depending on a range of things, including where you live and how busy the police are. 

Your equipment will be examined by the police. Once the results of this are known, a decision will be made about what happens next. If there is evidence that you have committed a criminal offence it is likely at that stage that you will be charged. The police will advise you of your rights if and when this happens. 

The period of investigation can sometimes take years. Be prepared for some frustration, uncertainty and worry during this period. But it is important that your life continues in as normal a way as possible, so there is no need for you to abandon any plans you might have made (such as going on holiday etc.) It is important that you keep your investigating officer informed of any plans and of your whereabouts in case you need to be contacted for any reason. It is also important to comply with any bail conditions you might have

 

You might be worried about your children and the involvement of child protection services. 

It is possible that children with whom you have regular contact will be interviewed. Consideration is given to any possible past or future risk to these children so that the right decisions can be made. This may mean restrictions will be placed on your contact with your children or any children you work with.

 

You may have concerns about the impact of your behaviour and arrest on those close to you including partners and family members. 

There is little doubt that this will be a shock for people close to you. It is also clear that life will never be the same for them. But it does not mean that they will reject you or that your family will fall apart. But they, too, will need help and support and the helpline can offer this, too.

 

Your behaviour may be more complex. 

Your sexual behaviour on the internet might not necessarily be all related to children. Some people develop other sexual behaviour problems, such as accessing extreme adult pornography. This is also illegal. Some people feel they are addicted to pornography they access online. They need appropriate support if they are to take control of their online behaviour and stop any illegal activity.

The police may be concerned about you following your initial arrest and will want you to get the help you need.

You may be advised to contact your GP. 

It is possible that you may start to have all sorts of thoughts or feel depressed or hopeless. Sometimes you may experience feelings of panic or even think about harming yourself or committing suicide. Such feelings are quite common. It is very important that you find some help and support with these thoughts and feelings and begin the changes that will lead to a positive future, free from offending. 

This can be a stressful time for you and for your family as everyone struggles to cope with their worries
                                             

For more information see our Stop It Now campaign page here.


If someone you know has been accessing Sexual Images of Children or talking to them Sexually online

First Reactions...

Someone close to you has just been visited by the police because it is suspected that they have been viewing sexual images of children or talking with them sexually online. This may be the first time you have come across this type of behaviour, or the first time you have had contact with the criminal justice system. You are likely to be shocked and confused and might be scared about what this could mean. Your first concerns might be about any children at home, whether you can ever trust the person again, and what this will mean for you and the future of your relationship. 

You might also have serious concerns about whether your family can remain together, or if your children might have been at risk. You might be angry and are likely to have lots of questions about what is going to happen in the immediate or longer-term future. You will almost certainly want the right information to help you think it all through. 


What about Our Children

If you have children living at home, what has happened is bound to affect them. In many circumstances the person under investigation won’t be allowed to live with underage children until the police have completed their investigation. When this happens, those left at home face added challenges and uncertainties and so need support and help. Perhaps the children were present when the police visited. Police investigations should have been carried out with sensitivity and care. Understandably children will have questions or worries that need to be addressed. It is important that you think carefully about what to say to them and how to do this, to minimise their anxiety and distress. You might want to come up with a very simple answer if the children are quite young. If the children are a bit older, you might feel that they can cope with more information

In some circumstances, Children’s Services may want to talk to you. Their first concern is the welfare and safety of any children who have had contact with the person being investigated. They will want to discuss practical steps with you, to ensure that the children are safe. Sometimes social workers or the police might want to talk directly with any children at home. This is to make sure that they can talk freely about any past or current worries or anything else of concern. You might be worried about possible harm in the past, but also about the possible stress or anxiety caused to them by the present circumstances and being expected to talk with strangers. The most important thing for these professionals is the wellbeing of your children, and they are trained to talk to your children sensitively.

 

Why did this Happen?

People view sexual images of children and talk sexually to children online for a range of reasons. Sometimes they struggle to explain it to themselves let alone others, including those they are close to. 

While everyone’s situation is different, the behaviour is illegal, and these are not victimless crimes. Real children are harmed when images are made and viewed, just as they can be by online sexual conversations with someone older than themselves.

In almost all cases, those close to the person arrested have no idea what they have been doing.  People who commit these offences often find it very hard to admit to themselves that their behaviour is harmful or wrong. Some feel they can’t stop and that they are somehow addicted to the behaviour. They rarely consider the risk of getting caught. For some it is a relief when their behaviour is discovered, providing an opportunity for real change, towards a life that is safe and offence-free. They all need help to confront their behaviour, explore the reasons behind it and make the changes that ensure a positive and offence-free future.

 

What about our relationship and family life? 

You may already have decided that you will continue to offer support to your partner/relative/friend who has been arrested.  On the other hand, you may be wondering if you can ever trust them again and feel betrayed to the point that you are considering ending the relationship (or separating temporarily). 

This is not the type of decision that should be made in haste. You need time to reflect, and perhaps to speak with someone who understands the issues you are facing. Relationships can and do survive the arrest and possible conviction of a person close to you, although change is needed. It takes time for important and often lifechanging decisions to be made, especially when children are involved.

You are not likely to make the right decisions if you are feeling overwhelmed or confused. Sometimes the person under investigation will tell you what they think you want to hear. Sometimes they will give you a version of things that puts them in the best possible light. Even when they are being honest, they may not know why they behaved as they did. 

It might seem that this is all too much for you just now. However, talking with someone can assist you in taking calm and considered decisions, over time. The Helpline aims to provide sound information, to reassure and to give you some sense of control.             

Stop It Now Confidential Freephone Helpline

Telephone 0808 1000 900

Or visit stopitnow.org.uk  

The helpline is free and confidential.

When you call, you don’t have to give any identifying information such as your family name, address, or telephone number.

Your email address will not be displayed when you email, making the service confidential. Due to high demand, we can’t offer an immediate response by email. If your enquiry is more urgent, please call the helpline. 

Stop It Now! Confidential Freephone Helpline 0808 1000 900

You will also find much more information about all the issues covered on this page at the following websites;

 

Page last reviewed March 2022