Police are slammed for sending suspected paedophiles warning notices urging them to change their ways instead of prosecuting them
- Hampshire Police first started using the ‘C5 notices’ in November 2016
- Notices are used in situations when they don’t have enough evidence to charge
- Sergeant Antony Waghorn has now handed out three of the warning notices
- But one criminal defence lawyer has said they are ‘criminalisation by default’
Police have been slammed for sending suspected paedophiles warning notices urging them to change their ways – instead of prosecuting them.
Hampshire Police started using the ‘C5 notices’ in November 2016 for situations in which they don’t have enough evidence to charge.
It hopes the leaflets will make suspected paedophiles ‘realise what they’re doing’ and educate them on the age of consent.
The ‘C5 notice’ warns the recipient that their ‘sexual behaviour has come to the attention of Hampshire Constabulary’. It goes on to say that police think the recipient ‘may have been involved in abusive sexual behaviour’
The notices cover five areas and urge the recipient to think about them. They include communication, conduct, control, consent and consequences
They begin by saying: ‘Your sexual behaviour has come to the attention of Hampshire Constabulary.
‘We believe you may have been involved in abusive sexual behaviour towards children.
‘We are serving you this notice so you have the opportunity to think about your behaviour and to change it.’
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But one Police Crime Commissioner has criticised the leaflets saying they ‘won’t protect a soul’.
There are also concerns the leaflets could risk penalising innocent people as they could show up in an enhanced DBS check.
The BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show has obtained figures from Hampshire Police revealing that 54 of the notices have been handed out since their introduction.
Men received 52 of these and 34 were given to people aged 25 and under.
The notices tackle five main areas, communication, conduct, control, consent and consequences.
They also ask questions such as: ‘Do you know it is against the law for anyone to have sex with someone under the age of 16?’
One police officer, Sergeant Antony Waghorn, gave the BBC an example in which the notice was able to give them ‘a foot in the door’ and educate someone on the age of consent.
Sergeant Antony Waghorn (pictured) has handed out three of the notices and gave an example of one case in which they were able to give him a ‘foot in the door’ to educate someone on the age of consent
Aine Kervick (pictured), a criminal defence lawyer at Kingsley Napley, said the notices could be seen as ‘criminalisation by default’
But some of raised serious concern over the use of the leaflet, blaming police cuts for their introduction.
Police and Crime Commissioner Vera Baird told the BBC that the scheme ‘won’t protect a soul’.
She said: ‘I don’t know of anything else like this at all. There’s nothing like a prospect of a conviction with this.’
While Aine Kervick, a criminal defence lawyer at Kingsley Napley, said the notices were ‘criminalisation by default’.
People have been taking to Twitter to share their thoughts on the notices.
One user, called North Utsire, said: ‘Hope you will highlight reduction in police numbers and resources that contribute to this. Cuts have consequences.’
While Alex said: ‘Surely if someone was investigated and not charged then these people could be 100 per cent innocent – yet handed a notice anyway?
‘It concerns me that these could be handed out to non-paedophiles and ruin the reputation of completely innocent people.’
Hampshire Police told the BBC that the scheme was not a cost-cutting measure and that they would not ordinarily show up in a DBS check.
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