The dilemma facing many jurisdictions internationally is how to handle cases of “Possession Only” with regard to child sexual abuse images.
Increasingly, advances in technology are allowing us to detect and trace the transfer of illicit images between users of the Internet. Enforcement agencies are being flooded with referrals to follow up. Most agencies do not have the capability to investigate all the referrals they get.
While we should investigate each and every referral, that is simply not possible. What we need to do is establish a reasonable approach to prioritizing resources and expediting cases through the system to get offenders under supervision as efficiently as possible. Most possession only cases plea and never get to court. We need to reserve valuable investigative and laboratory resources for those cases that need extensive work.
Toward that end, we have developed a “Possession Only” decision matrix to assist our local jurisdiction in doing triage on these cases such that we allocate resources as needed. Using such an approach allows us to prosecute cases efficiently, get offenders into supervision and treatment, while reserving resources for the more demanding cases.
The matrix can be downloaded by clicking on the image below.