Following arrest for possessing indecent images of children, or online sexual communication with a child, you’re likely to be feeling many emotions, including shame and fear. You are probably also thinking about the possible legal outcomes. We know many people arrested for sexual image and sexual communication-based offences have not been in trouble with the police before, so the legal system can appear utterly alien. That is why it can be helpful to seek legal advice and guidance about how the immediate future may look. Being proactive here may help you start to manage the anxieties you are likely experiencing.
Our experience is that many people quickly turn to the sentencing guidelines, or start searching online for articles about the sentencing of others. If you have already done this, it’s likely you became more anxious due to the way the guidelines are written and the content of those media articles. We suggest you stop searching for this information and speak to a professional about the possible consequences instead.
There are several things you can do, or stop doing, to address some anxieties. These include;
Stop looking at online articles about the outcomes for others. Every situation is different.
Call an agency such as Safer Lives or the Stop It Now! Helpline to discuss your situation. Safer Lives and Stop it Now! Are confidential services (ask for information regarding the limitations of confidentiality).
Ask your investigating officer for the number of your local Liaison and Diversion team (or Google “Liaison and Diversion service” in your area)
Talk to lawyers who specialise in indecent image or sexual communication offences. They may provide a free consultation and give some factual information. If you did have a legal aid lawyer at your interview, then ask for their advice on how to access support.
If you are worried about your mental health or having thoughts of suicide, then speak to a GP or your local crisis service. You do not have to explain why you are so anxious, but the doctor will be able to help you better the more open and honest you can be.
We believe the most important thing is that you don’t try to navigate the early part of the investigation process alone. If you don’t have family or friends that you feel able to talk to then please do contact the services available. This isn’t about taking responsibility away from you or pretending what you have done is ok but getting through the first days and weeks so you can then address your behaviour. The important thing is that you have now stopped your online offending and are no longer part of the cycle of viewing child sexual abuse material. If you would like further help to get through this initial post arrest period contact Safer Lives on 0800 043 5987 or email firstname.lastname@example.org