Strategic review of Police Scotland's response to online child sexual abuse

26 February 2020

This review relates to the Police Scotland response to online child sexual abuse, however the findings should contribute to a wider discussion about how society deals with those who view indecent images of children online.




Police Scotland should improve the means by which recorded data can accurately inform assessment of the scale and nature of online child sexual abuse.


Police Scotland should review the level of analytical support provided to the Public Protection business area and consider the appointment of a dedicated analytical resource.


Police Scotland should ensure a strategic governance framework is in place, which provides support, direction, scrutiny and quality assurance to the force’s response to online child sexual abuse.


Police Scotland should undertake an Online Child Sexual Abuse Strategic Threat Assessment to accurately identify the scale, nature and threat to children from online child sexual abuse.


Police Scotland should review the current arrangements for allocation of specialist support in relation to online child sexual abuse to ensure the allocation is fair, equitable and meets the needs across the country.


Police Scotland should review the resources and structure of the Internet Investigation Unit and Communications Investigation Unit to ensure that the force is able to meet current and future demand in relation to initial risk assessment, triage and intelligence development.


Police Scotland and the National Crime Agency should work together to ensure that all capabilities are being exploited to their full potential and intelligence is shared effectively.


Police Scotland should work with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to establish a pragmatic and realistic approach to digital forensic examination requests.


Police Scotland should review its capacity and capability to conduct undercover online covert operations in support of its policing priorities and ensure that undercover online operatives are sufficiently equipped and supported to identify and adequately assess the risk to children as a result of online offending.


Police Scotland should ensure that arrangements for deploying undercover online specialist resources are directed by formal tasking arrangements aligned to risk, priority and demand.

Publication type: 
Inspection report