POLICE in Dorset will remove images of victims from a sex offender’s laptop after deciding that despite the law, it’s “the right thing to do”.

The force was bound by law to return a laptop containing images of one of the victims, to a sex offender.

Because the images were not indecent and the laptop was not used as evidence Dorset Police were meant to return it untouched. But the force has now decided to delete the images anyway, after seeking legal advice.

Detective Inspector Steve Symms of Bournemouth CID said: “From the start we have been exploring all the options available to us to refuse the return of the images and we have sought legal advice regarding this issue.

“We have decided to delete the images of the victims from the laptop and other equipment before returning these items to the prison, to be held until the offender’s release.

“The legislation hasn’t changed. However, following legal advice the force is confident that taking this course of action is the right thing to do.

“We will always make victims’ needs paramount and are prepared to defend our decision if necessary, rather than further exacerbate their suffering.”

Dorset Police believes that to return images of the victims to the offender would be incompatible with victims’ rights to respect for their private lives under Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Police and Crime Commissioner Martyn Underhill said: “I am pleased to hear that common sense has prevailed in this case.

“Both the Chief Constable and I share the view that victims must be put first.

“I will continue to lobby for change and I encourage members of the public to sign the government e-petition calling for the legislation to be re-considered.”

The e-petition is at www.epetitions.direct.|gov.uk/petitions/63590.