Sussex Police is considering returning photographs of children to a paedophile.

The convicted offender has asked police to hand back a memory card containing pictures he had taken of youngsters in a public place.

Officers from the Paedophile On-Line Investigation Team (POLIT) have now contacted the Force’s solicitor to ask whether to agree to giving him the pictures back.

Charities warned even though the pictures were not “indecent” they should not be returned.

The news emerged in a series of tweets from Detective Constable Kenny Stark who is based at Sussex House in Hollingbury, Brighton.

He wrote: “Dilemma in the POLIT office today, male convicted of possession of indecent images of children wants memory card (from his camera) back.

“Memory card contains photos of children (not his own) and the photos are not indecent. The law books are being consulted.

“The card contains (non- indecent) photos that he has taken of children, in public areas.

“The memory card was seized as potential evidence but no indecent images of children were found on it.

“They are legal images even though they are not of his own children. It’s a legal v [sic] moral dilemma.”

Yesterday Sussex Police refused to reveal the man’s identity.

A spokesman told The Argus: “This topic relates solely to a policy question, namely the lawfulness and proportionality of police retention of non-indecent images held by an offender who has been convicted of indecent images offences.

"We are consulting our solicitor for advice.”

Claude Knights, director of Kidscape, described the situation as “very concerning”.

She said: “It would be appropriate for the pictures to be removed from the memory card and for the offender’s behaviour and motivations to be investigated fully. “The safety of children is paramount.”

Peter Saunders, from the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, added: “I would ask them to have a strong word with this man.

“While I am very supportive of human rights it is more important that children are not violated.”

Ian Chisnall, who stood for Sussex’s Police and Crime Commissioner and is a Street Pastor, said: “If they give him the pictures back it is totally inappropriate. The only answer is to destroy the camera.

“Giving a convicted paedophile back a camera with pictures of children on it is as bad as giving an alcoholic a bottle of whisky. The state becomes compliant.”

Liz Longhurst, who campaigned for extreme pornography to be outlawed after her daughter Jane was murdered in Brighton by pervert Graham Coutts in 2003, added: “I would not be happy about him getting his camera and pictures back.”

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