Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
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A year of high impact as UK centre for tackling child sex abuse delivers step change in protecting children

A year of high impact as UK centre for tackling child sex abuse delivers step change in protecting children

CHILD EXPLOITATION AND ONLINE PROTECTION CENTRE News Release issued by The Government News Network on 11 June 2007

* 76 CHILDREN RESCUED FROM ABUSIVE ENVIRONMENTS
* 83 CHILD SEX OFFENDERS ARRESTED
* 12 OF THE UK'S HIGHEST RISK CHILD SEX OFFENDERS LOCATED
* OVER 750,000 CHILDREN ATTENDED THINKUKNOW EDUCATION SESSIONS IN UK SCHOOLS

Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre launches its first year figures and lays out the challenge ahead

Seventy-six (76) children from across the UK have been rescued from sexual abuse environments by officers working with the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre during its first 12 months of operation.

Add to that the arrests of 83 child sex offenders and the dismantlement and disruption of 3 major international paedophile rings - all with UK connections - as the battle against child sex abuse gathers pace.

In all, over 2,500 reports have been made to the CEOP Centre since its launch in April 2006. During the same period the organisation has made around 1000 disseminations - many with multiple suspects - to local and international forces.

In a groundbreaking approach for the UK, the CEOP Centre has also delivered ThinkUKnow education training to over 750,000 UK school children with sessions looking at online internet safety. 1 million will have attended by the end of the academic year.

The CEOP Centre is unique in that within one organisation police officers specialising in tackling child sex abuse are working with staff seconded in from major corporations such as Microsoft and leading children's charities including the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

Its mandate, first and foremost, is child protection: Enpower, Protect, Enforce. This includes using a multitude of resources to focus on high risk, high impact offenders.

A totally holistic approach is now being delivered including award winning safety sessions for children (ThinkuKnow), specialist training for child protection professionals (1500 attended last year) through to the development of safer by design initiatives (Report Abuse button within MSN Messenger) and ultimately the investigation and arrest of offenders (with 36 major operational deployments during the year).

The CEOP Centre's approach is now being studied by a number of countries with international visitors from law enforcement, government, child protection and industry from as far away as South East Asia, Australia and other parts of Europe.

Jim Gamble, is Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre:

"Back in April 2006 when we launched the CEOP Centre I said that we would change the internet from the anonymous place that some offenders thought it would be. I outlined how we would provide young people with a direct and dedicated Report Abuse function where they could report deviant activities within a few clicks of a mouse and I said that we would publish details of registered offenders on a website if they failed to fulfil the consequences of their convictions.

"These figures speak for themselves. What they mean is that any offender looking to groom a child today online stands a good chance of grooming an undercover officer instead. If not that, then that offender may be speaking online to one of the 750,000 children we have now educated through ThinkuKnow and who know how to spot deviant behaviour and how to report it to us. Now that is a massive deterrent.

"Not only that but we have turned technology on to those who often look to exploit it to access and exploit children. We have the online Report Abuse mechanism - now receiving an increasing number of reports from young people under the age of 18 years and - we have gone further by posting details of missing offenders online. In addition, 5 of the first 8 individuals posted on Most Wanted (ceop.gov.uk/wanted) have been located and arrested.

"This is just one year of activity - our very first year. Now we move on. We have to look at the scale of this issue as in only one operation alone over 1,000 lines of enquiry relating to UK suspects were passed to us from our US counterparts. That is a massive task not only for the CEOP Centre, but UK policing in general, and we will do all we can to keep our collective foot firmly down on the pedal as we motor forward.

"But we don't move forward blindly. Far from it! Today we also launched our first strategic threat assessment into online child sex abuse - the first of its kind here in the UK. It collates all the information and intelligence we have gleamed during our first year of business - from industry, the public, the wider child protection community, government, the police and wider criminal justice system and from partners abroad - to build the first composite picture of the challenge we face.

"That shows us - and this particular piece of information comes from initial analysis of around 6,000 children who attended our ThinkuKnow sessions - that 1 in 4 of them are meeting people offline who they initially engaged with online - 83% of them taking a friend along and therefore putting more children at risk. This is backed up by analysis of our reporting mechanism that shows online chat and instant messenger are still the most reported area of abuse and that grooming is the most frequently reported activity.

"What is more our intelligence is showing us that online gaming sites and mobile social networking areas are the new areas on the map where potential threat to children exists, while the explosion of sites encouraging the production of self-generated material means that more and more children are putting themselves at risk by pushing the boundaries of what they are posting. We are not against these sites - far from it - but making them safer by design is critical.

"So my message is simple. The world is becoming increasingly hostile to child sex offenders. We will track you, we will arrest you and you will be held to account. Why? Because more and more people are saying enough is enough - sectors are working together, children and parents are becoming more alert and those combined resources are more intelligent about how you operate. That is what the CEOP Centre set out to achieve. Our results speak for themselves."

Home Office minister Vernon Coaker said:

"We are glad to see that the CEOP Centre is concentrating on its core activity of child protection. In a time of technological advances and greater computer use we are pleased with the organisation's ongoing success in protecting children through empowerment and bringing to justice those that prey on one of the most vulnerable groups in society".

Notes to Editors

1. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is a law enforcement agency and works in both online and offline environments. Full information on all areas of work as well as online safety messages and access to online reporting can be found at http://www.ceop.gov.uk or for children at http://www.thinkuknow.net. PDF versions of both the CEOP Centre's Annual Review and Strategic Overview are available on the site.

2. The CEOP Centre also represents the UK on the Virtual Global Taskforce (VGT) - an international alliance of law enforcement agencies dedicated to tackling child sex abuse with partners from the US, Australia, Canada, the UK (represented by CEOP) and Interpol bringing in another 184 international jurisdictions. Further information can be found at http://www.virtualglobaltaskforce.com.

3. Members of the public can register to receive updates on when new convicted child sex offenders are posted online by the CEOP Centre by visiting http://www.ceop.gov.uk/wanted.

PDNS: Mandatory Active Cyber Defence for Public Sector Networks. Latest Guide