Thursday 21 June 2012
CEOP target 'anonymous' online child sex offenders
After rescuing a record number of children in the past year, CEOP make it a top priority to target sex offenders who attempt to hide their activities online and avoid detection
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre today launches an annual review, future plan and threat assessment, highlighting that a key area of attention in the coming year will be those who share indecent images of children (IIOC) and try to hide their digital footprints in online environments where other sex offenders operate.
Other key threat areas the Centre will be prioritising in order to fight child sex abuse include:
- Those who produce, distribute and possess child abuse images
- Targeting sex offenders who are exploiting children’s vulnerability online
- Travelling sex offenders
- Group and gang related child sexual exploitation
CEOP also released figures for the past year in its 2011-2012 Annual Review, showing 427 children had been safeguarded as a direct result of its activity and 192 suspects arrested. The figures do not include over 100 arrests for IIOC offences made in the UK-wide Operation Tharlsey last week.
CEOP now receives an average 1,300 reports a month, an unprecedented 263% increase in reports over the past two years. CEOP’s Thinkuknow education resources, designed to help young people stay safe online, were seen by 2.5 million children.
In the latest Threat Assessment on Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation, CEOP will be focussing on those offenders who try to disguise their activity online in an attempt to frustrate law enforcement intervention.
The report highlights that users who engage in this kind of activity and use areas of the internet which they believe are hidden, are often creating or sharing new or ‘first generation’ indecent images of children.
Many indecent images and videos are seen for the first time on such sites, suggesting many of the users are involved in the production of the material and contact sexual abuse. CEOP’s report ‘A Picture of Abuse’, released on 14th June, highlighted the clear link between viewing child abuse images and contact sexual offending.
Peter Davies, Chief Executive of CEOP, said:
“The safeguarding of so many children this year speaks for itself and is a tremendous achievement. We’ve identified the groups of offenders and sexual predators we believe pose the greatest risk to children and have prioritised these. The Centre’s reach is greater than ever before through our network of partners and we are using increasing sophisticated methods to catch offenders.
“Some offenders have come to mistakenly believe that there are areas online, or tactics they can employ, that will cover their tracks from law enforcement. This is not the case. There is nowhere to hide. We will be specifically targeting these offenders over the coming months with the full range of policing resources available to the Centre.”
Home Secretary Theresa May said:
“CEOP has gone from strength to strength and the Government fully supports its vital work, keeping children safe and bringing predatory sex offenders to justice.
“Protecting 427 children from sexual abuse last year is a major achievement – each and every one of them now has a chance to enjoy a proper childhood, free from harm. CEOP’s role will be further enhanced next year when it becomes part of the new National Crime Agency, sharing intelligence to expose the links between child exploitation and other forms of serious and organised crime.”
Notes to editors
The ‘2011-2012 Annual Review and 2012-2013 Centre Plan’, and the ‘Threat Assessment on Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse’ are available from the CEOP Press Office on 0870 000 3434 or online from Thursday 21 June at www.ceop.police.uk
The report ‘A Picture of Abuse’ is available at www.ceop.police.uk/publications
PLEASE NOTE: CHILD ABUSE IMAGES, NOT ‘CHILD PORNOGRAPHY’
Use of the phrase ‘child pornography’ actually benefits child sex abusers:
it indicates legitimacy and compliance on the part of the victim and therefore legality on the part of the abuser it conjures up images of children posing in ‘provocative’ positions, rather than suffering horrific abuse
Every photograph captures an actual situation where a child has been abused. This is not pornography.
Child abuse image classification
The Sentencing Advisory Guidelines classify child abuse images into five different levels: -
Level 1: Images depicting erotic posing with no sexual activity
Level 2: Non-penetrative sexual activity between children, or solo masturbation by a child
Level 3: Non-penetrative sexual activity between adults and children
Level 4: Penetrative sexual activity involving a child or children, or both children and adults
Level 5: Sadism or penetration of, or by, an animal
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre
CEOP works in both online and offline environments to protect children from sexual exploitation. Full information on all areas of work, as well as online safety messages and access to online reporting, can be found at www.ceop.police.uk