Cookie policy notice

By continuing to use this site you agree to our cookies policy below:
Since 26 May 2011, the law now states that cookies on websites can ony be used with your specific consent. Cookies allow us to ensure that you enjoy the best browsing experience.

This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Child porn links found on registrar's computer

The practice registrar has been with us for almost six months. He is a pleasant, rather quiet young man who is unforthcoming about his social life but works hard and seemed certain to complete his training successfully. But a few days ago, while he was out on visits, our practice nurse used the computer terminal in his consulting room because her's was being serviced and discovered his hard disk was full of pornography sites, most of them promising access to hardcore images of children in exchange for a credit card number. The practice nurse wanted to contact the police there and then but I promised to deal with the matter. Now I don't know what to do.

GP's advice

Talk to the other partners at once

This is a career-threatening discovery for your registrar and yourself. If he has been downloading child pornography his own career is at risk. If you handle this incorrectly then potentially so is yours.

He may not be the culprit. He has been with you for six months but there were presumably other registrars before him. Who else has used his room? Unless he has exclusive use of the computer and his room is locked regularly, anyone in your building could have downloaded these images.

How easily was the information found? Files within files may not be that obvious. He may simply switch his computer on each day and go straight into the practice software. If he is innocent he may not have noticed anything wrong.

If he is guilty you may consider trying to keep this quiet through fear of the huge stress this will generate ­ or because you want to protect his career.

You could reformat the hard disk and warn him off. Unfortunately, he could still be traced via the credit card details. You may not stop his activities. And remember

that your nurse also knows ­ this path would clearly implicate you. You really have no choice.

Discuss this with the rest of your partners immediately and then report your findings to the police. Your registrar should be formally suspended and excluded from the building.

This is not an accusation of guilt and is as much for his protection as yours. The police will be able to check details from the hard disk to establish guilt or innocence.

GP's advice

You should call the police now

You do know what to do, but it will not be easy. First, you have to come to terms with the fact that these links did not find their way on to your registrar's computer terminal by accident ­ child pornography has to be actively sought out.

Your practice nurse is correct. The presence of this material on the computer's hard disk is sufficient reason to involve the police, and you should do so without delay. They will take the computer terminal away for further examination, and will want to do a detailed check on the other computers in the practice.

This could be extremely disruptive and your system may be out of action for days.

Round up your partners for an emergency meeting and explain what has happened so that you can come to an agreement on what to tell the staff and which of you should speak to the registrar.

The discussion with your registrar will be difficult. He will have to be told why his computer has been removed. Be prepared for him to deny all knowledge of how the offending material came to be there, and do not feel obliged to challenge his denial. Establishing the truth is the responsibility of the police.

However loathsome you consider child pornography to be, your role is to provide emotional support and, although this is beyond the call of duty, offering to stay with your registrar until he is taken into police custody.

Afterwards, you will need to debrief so that you do not come to blame yourself for ending the career of a promising young GP.

Rate this article 

Click to rate

  • 1 star out of 5
  • 2 stars out of 5
  • 3 stars out of 5
  • 4 stars out of 5
  • 5 stars out of 5

0 out of 5 stars

Have your say