Lanning (1992) suggests that collections are important to the offender and are ‘often a considerable source of loss should the collection be seized’.
Quayle and Taylor( 2001) further assert that collections are often kept in a secure, permanent way and remain constant, in that ‘images are rarely discarded’
Another aspect of collecting is that it leads to an ‘increase in fantasy and sexual activity, particularly masturbation in relation to images or through engaging in mutual fantasies with others while on-line’ (Taylor et al 2001)
The COPINE (Combating Paedophile Information Networks In Europe) project has also asserted that there tends to be a desensitising process to the images in some cases, leading to the offender seeking ever more deviant images to sustain arousal. They believe that this has led to a change in the type of material being found more recently on the internet; images which more frequently involve younger and younger victims, and those which clearly depict sadistic pain.
However, some offenders will not seek out the most explicit images; they can be aroused by a picture that would not be deemed indecent in criminal justice terms. It is important that practitioners are aware that these types of offenders operate along a continuum of abusive images.
Offenders can become quite powerful within their specific on-line community, especially if they have developed good technical skills. Images become a form of currency, and items are traded and swapped. This process further legitimises the interest of child abusive images, and provides some individuals, who may have limited real world social contacts, with a sense of ‘belonging to a community’ where they can be ‘themselves’.