Thousands of pictures stored on a computer is no longer enough for prosecutors to classify the crime as serious. Now, millions of pictures must be seized or the images must be particularly unpleasant, reported Göteborgs-Posten.
“To keep moving the boundary for what constitutes a serious crime is macabre,” said David Lagerlöf, press secretary at children’s rights organisation Ecpat.
In recent years the amount of material confiscated has increased dramatically as improved technology has allowed ever-greater storage capacity at plummeting prices.
And while the punishment for child pornography is partly determined by the quantity of images discovered, sentences have not increased in proportion to the finds.
In fact, the opposite has happened. The bar for what constitutes serious child pornography, which carries a minium six month prison sentence, has been raised significantly.
“Today there must be extraordinarily many pictures for the crime to be classified serious,” said prosecutor Håkan Rosvall, who specialises in IT-related crimes, to GP.
A few years ago police would consider 50,000 pictures to be a major haul. Today, when it is possible to store several million pictures on a single computer, the quantity of images has far less significance.
“If the child has been subjected to especially abusive treatment the crime can be considered serious even if there aren’t so many pictures of films,” said Rosvall.
But David Lagerlöf at Ecpat told GP that it is “strange” that court judgements react to a criminal activity in this way.
“Behind every picture is a tragedy. It’s about a documented attack on a child. If a crime becomes more widescale then the law ought to be tougher, but here it’s the opposite.”