The number of perverts jailed for possessing child abuse images and videos has hit a record low.
Fewer than one in five go behind bars, compared to a third in 2010.
Last night the gran of Tia Sharp, 12 – whose killer Stuart Hazell liked obscene images of kids – said: “It’s soft justice.”
Angie Niles, whose son David was Tia’s stepdad, added: “It allows offenders to go and commit further offences.”
Figures show 2,249 were convicted of having obscene material involving children last year. Just 424 were jailed – the lowest since the offence was created.
Over the past 10 years the number of suspended sentences for the offence rose almost fourfold, to 974 last year.
Tia Sharp's gran blasted the figures as 'soft justice'
(Image: PHILIP COBURN)
Another 661 got a community sentence, 15 got a conditional discharge and another 22 were fined.
Victoria Green, of charity the Marie Collins Foundation, said: “This trend towards leniency is indicative of a lack of understanding about the offence.
"Offenders tell themselves there is no harm as there is no victim in real life.
"It has got to be brought home to people, every image is of a flesh and blood child being sexually abused.”
Tia Sharp, 12, was killed by Stuart Hazell
Paedophile Hazell, now 46, was jailed for a minimum of 38 years after sexually assaulting and murdering Tia, before stuffing her body into his girlfriend’s loft in New Addington, South London, in 2012.
The Ministry of Justice said: “In 2020 the average custodial sentence length for child porn possession was a decade high.”