The Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop) has presented it’s annual report which shows that 414 children were helped, 513 people arrested and 132 offender networks broken up in the UK in the past year. This is a record number of children and a record number of arrests for the centre.
Ceop was set up in 2006 to track online paedophiles and bring them to court. Over a five-year period the agency said it helped to dismantle more than 394 high-risk sex offender networks and arrest 1,644 suspected paedophiles.
According to the report, images on the internet appear to show that younger children are increasingly becoming victims of abuse. But the “great tragedy” is that much child abuse goes unreported, said its chief executive Peter Davies. He added that Ceop was trying to stay ahead of developments in technology, including in the area of social networking sites.
Jon Taylor, an internet safety expert and former police officer who went undercover posing as a 12-year-old girl, said it was relatively easy to pose online – either as a child who may be groomed or as a sexual predator – to “mingle” and find out what people were doing. But he said it was difficult because the internet is not “proactively policed”, and instead reacts to intelligence and information.
Ceop is currently affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), but is to be merged with the new National Crime Agency when it is formed in 2013.
Safeguarding Matters is organising a conference about the topic in November 2011. Speakers include Mark Williams-Thomas and international police forces. Please register with us to be kept updated on the conference programme.