Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
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Offenders exploit a converged environment

Offenders exploit a converged environment

News Release issued by the COI News Distribution Service on 06 September 2009

Uk’s national centre for protecting children reveals latest trends in sexual offending

Child sex offenders are switching between the internet and the offline world with increasing frequency and severity in order to target and in some cases abduct young victims and parents could and should do more, said the UK national policing centre for child protection – the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre – today.

Publishing its 2008/09 Strategic Overview designed to inform the wider policing and child protection communities of the emerging trends and patterns of offender behaviour, CEOP urged parents to also take note and have published a public version via podcasts and downloads so that they too can understand how the threat manifests itself.

Almost 5500 reports were received by the Centre during the past 12 months of which 2500 came from members of the public using the organisation’s unique online “CEOP Report” button. 1373 of those reports were from young children themselves of which 89% related specifically to instances of grooming.

It is analysis of those reports that provide the basis for much of the organisation’s increasing understanding. Cases in the past 12 months range from instances where offenders have infiltrated social networking and other online environments to collect pictures of young children to examples of sustained grooming and blackmail with offenders seeking to meet a child offline for abduction and sexual abuse.

CEOP also report a growing trend where offenders are using online networks to communicate with each other, show live-time abuse and share images – with the severity of the sexual contact captured, or the newness of the offence committed, gaining the offender extra kudos with like minded individuals.

Jim Gamble is Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre and heads up child protection for the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO):

“There is a danger that each year we and many others appear to be saying the same thing. Offenders use the internet, children put themselves at risk and parents and carers remain oblivious. Have we reached saturation point of safety advice or are we being intimated and seduced by the complexity of the technology?

“There is a strong mix of both and simplicity is the key while apathy is a risk. This is not about understanding technology or even necessarily the latest online service. It is about behaviour. That is why we have taken today’s step and put out podcasts and materials that supplemented by our wider services demystify the jargon and rhetoric and ask parents and carers to sit up and take note.

“Some in the online industry could do more and we have said that before. But parents and carers need to accept greater responsibility and go beyond stating that they don’t understand this new environment. We simply do not see evidence of parents using the resources we offer. The advice you need is there so please use it. It is user friendly and accessible from ceop.police.uk, ITUNES and CEOP's YouTube Channel.

“Not only that, we have listened to children, industry, NGO’s and other specialists and created a one-stop shop behind our “CEOP Report” online tab – if you want information on issues ranging from cyber bullying to viruses, to find contact details for your local police child protection team or to speak to us directly then ceop.police.uk gives you that service.”

CEOP has seen a particular increase in the use of webcams linked to instant messaging technology to incite a child to perform or to witness a sexual act: 34% of grooming reports made by children under-18 incited a child to perform a sexual act; 20% incited a child to watch a sexual act.

In addition, analysis of the reports demonstrates that the online and offline worlds are truly converged: the ‘virtual’ environment is simply an extension of the real, physical world and that is as true for young people as it is for offenders.

Where there used to be separate online services such as email, photo sharing, gaming and chat – all these services are now rolled into one environment; further, the internet can be accessed from a range of devices. This means that children and young people are increasingly accessible to offenders: like them, they can access the internet 24/7 from any location.

To register for regular updates about protecting children online or to download public version of the Strategic Overview visit www.ceop.police.uk.

Notes to editors

1. Podcasts for parents and professionals of CEOP Strategic Overview 2008/09 and a full copy of the document can be found at www.ceop.police.uk

2. Anyone providing an online environment where children go can apply to embed the ‘CEOP Report’ button by visiting www.ceop.police.uk/digitallibrary

3. The CEOP Centre works in both the 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.

For further information:

Miriam Rich, Vicky Gillings, Clive Michel or Hannah Bickers on 0870 000 3434.

Out of Hours: Clive Michel, 07899 064 333.

Contacts:

NDS Enquiries
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department
ndsenquiries@coi.gsi.gov.uk

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