September 2020

Devon and Cornwall Police officer downloaded child abuse images on duty

A veteran police officer who downloaded child abuse videos was caught after messaging an undercover colleague about abusing a child.

Michael Atkins was working for Devon and Cornwall Police when he was trapped by an operation in September last year.

The 54-year-old pleaded guilty to three counts of distributing and three counts of making indecent images of children.

Atkins, of Court Drive, Cullompton, was given a two year suspended sentence at Exeter Crown Court.

Atkins, who was an officer for more than 30 years and moved to work for the force as a civilian in August 2019, downloaded more than 850 images and videos over nine years.

He was caught after exchanging messages in an online forum with the covert officer.

The officer had claimed to be abusing his daughter and Atkins tried to persuade him to bring her to Devon, the court heard.

Atkins was put on the sex offenders’ register by the Judge Timothy Rose and made subject to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order, which will allow police to monitor his internet usage.

He was also ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid community service, 35 days of rehabilitation and pay £425 costs.

Judge Rose said: “You knew at every moment the illegality of what you were doing and the harm which it contributed to in terms of the abuse of children.

“All the while there was the hypocrisy of somebody who was in a position where you were employed to prevent crime but underneath your professional role you were committing crime week in, week out over nine years.”