British authorities say the number of child sex abuse reports has reached alarming levels in the country.
The lead officer on child protection, Simon Bailey, said police forces were overwhelmed because of the sheer volume of claims.
“The numbers are continuing to rise,” Bailey told The Times. “We have reached saturation point ... The police service has responded to the threat but it has now reached that point whereby we have to try and turn the tide. We have to look at alternatives.”
Bailey explained that the understaffed police would have to shift some of their resources to counseling and rehabilitation for lower level offenders in order to deal more effectively with dangerous pedophiles.
Offenders who look at indecent images of children online, for example, should only be spared a custodial sentence if they were found to be in no contact with children, he said.
A report by NSPCC, the leading children's charity in the UK, warned last year that as many as half a million people could be involved in sharing improper images of children online.
As a result, police had a large number of cases to investigate, according to a spokesman for the charity.
This comes as a government inquiry into historical child sexual abuses has finally begun holding its much-awaited public hearings in London.
Established in 2014, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is one of the largest child abuse inquiries undertaken in the UK, dealing with claims made by former British child migrants.
Up to 10,000 children were relocated to Australia and parts of the British Empire after World War II under an immigration relocation program that continued up to 1974.
On Monday, the inquiry heard from former child migrants who experienced "unacceptable depravity," including torture, sexual abuse and slavery.