DISCUSSIONS are taking place on whether new legislation could be brought in to deal specifically with people who moderate child abuse websites.

This is according to a National Crime Agency commander following the jailing of Nathan Bake, of Runcorn, who was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

The 28-year-old admitted offences related to his roles moderating and creating child abuse sites on the dark web.

Chester Crown Court heard that the mechanic was second-in-command of site The Annex, which saw almost 90,000 users sharing illegal material on the dark web.

Adam Priestley, branch commander for the NCA, said there is currently no legislation dealing specifically with the moderation or administration of a website where child abuse material is being shared.

As well as sexual offences, Bake was charged with participating in an organised crime group, which Mr Priestley said was the first time the NCA had used the charge in a case of this type.

He said: “It would be much simpler if there were new legislation that dealt with these offences explicitly.”

He said discussions have been ongoing between the NCA and the Home Office for some time about whether laws could be updated.

He said: “The NCA are actively involved in discussions with regard to the legislation and are involved with Home Office policy teams to try and establish whether or not there is possibility to either uplift or add new legislation.”

He accepted there was a ‘big disparity’ between Bake’s sentence and the sentence given to the head of the site, a man from Alabama who was jailed for life in the US.

He added: “There is always a bit of a disparity between us in the UK and what the laws and the sentences are like in the US.

“Especially in this crime type, where they invite very, very, very heavy sentences in comparison to those that are given down by the UK courts, and what they are capable of giving.”

Judge Patrick Thompson, sentencing Bake, said there is a ‘different system of law’ in America with ‘different sentences available’.

He said: “I am confined by the maximum sentences for the offences which have been charged. Sentences such as those which may be available in America are not available to me.”