Amazon and Ebay have been selling “anatomically correct” child sex robots to pedophiles in the United States and United Kingdom, according to British law enforcement agencies.
The lifelike silicone dolls, which weigh around 25kg (55lb) cost upwards of thousands of dollars, are being imported to the US and UK after being sold by traders on sites including Amazon and eBay, according to Britain’s National Crime Agency (NCA).
They are a “relatively new phenomenon” and should be criminalised, said Hazel Stewart, the operations manager at the NCA’s child exploitation and online protection command (Ceop).
“They are the weight of a seven-year-old child, they are not something that is the traditional blow-up doll,” she said. “(They are) very, very different – more accurate anatomically.”
Stewart said the dolls were unlike those that people might associate with bachelor parties and were the precursor to more sophisticated child sex robots for pedophiles, which she warned were “just around the corner”.
The Guardian reports that Border Force officers have seized 123 such dolls in little more than a year since March 2016; and seven people have been charged with importing them, including one man who was jailed last month.
The figures were revealed as a judge at Canterbury crown court dismissed an attempt by a barrister representing an ex-primary school governor, David Turner, to argue that a doll he imported was not obscene. Turner, a 72-year-old former churchwarden, pleaded guilty on Monday to importing the child sex doll after the application to dismiss the charge was turned down.
Of the seven men charged, six also faced allegations linked to child abuse images.
Dan Scully, the deputy director for intelligence operations at the Border Force, said this showed that people who ordered the models, which are primarily manufactured in China and Hong Kong, were often pedophiles who committed sex crimes.
“What’s critical, I think, for this investigation, [was that] these items were going to individuals, in many cases, who were committing other offences in relation to [the] harm of children,” he said. Scully added that that many were also previously unknown to UK law enforcement as potential paedophiles.
The NCA, Ceop and Border Force launched a joint investigation in March last year, which asked a paediatrician to examine some of the models seized to confirm their belief that the dolls were child-like in appearance and anatomy.
Border Force officers have powers to seize items they believe are indecent or obscene under customs legislation and those who order them can be prosecuted under a specific charge of importing an indecent or obscene article.
While NCA agents do not believe any similar models are being manufactured in the UK, Stewart said there were concerns over a gap in legislation because it is not illegal to own a child sex doll.
Asked if there should be new laws to combat the rise in child sex dolls, Stewart said: “I think it’s got to be through the full range of this criminality, from manufacturer to sale, to import, to possess – the full range.”