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Child porn fight 'lacks funding'

More money and technology are needed to catch and prosecute net paedophiles and protect child victims of cybercrimes, say children's charities.

They have joined forces with senior police officers to call for a review of net policing.   They urged the government to provide the police with more technology and resources to keep up with new services like third generation (3G) phones.   The Home Office said it was "surprised" by the claims.   "We had a very constructive meeting of the Child Internet Protection taskforce only last week and everyone seemed content with the progress we are making," said Minister Paul Goggins.   "Child protection is a priority for the government."

Mr Goggins stated that the police service was not short of money, although he had agreed to look at the case for organising police resources in a more effective way.   "Before the government considers any extra money for the police, we need to see an improvement in performance.   "Two years ago, we were told that without extra money the 6,000 suspects from Operation Ore could not be investigated. We provided extra funding yet less than a quarter of these suspects were ever charged," he said.

Among other recommendations, the Children's Charities Coalition for Internet Safety (CHIS) also proposed the creation of an online 999 service to help tackle these crimes.   "Any person who thinks they have spotted an online crime going on or has received a call or an e-mail about a crime, could send it there to be dealt with straight away," said CHIS's spokesman John Carr.

"If you send some request on a Friday evening, it might be Monday afternoon before anybody actually gets round to dealing with it and that may be too late," he told the BBC News website.   The charities involved in CHIS include the NSPCC, Barnardo's, the NCH and ChildLine.   The coalition also highlighted the challenges for the police due to new technology like 3G phones.   These handsets allow people to capture, watch and send video clips.

"We need to be much more aware to the fact that through 3G, people will certainly have the web in their pocket", said Stuart Hyde from the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo), which backs the report.   "Our traditional approach is to protecting children physically looking after then and watching what they are doing. These really need to be improved once 3G really takes off," he said.  

Even though both CHIS and Acpo praised the work of the Home Secretary's Internet Task Force on Child Protection, they said that a lot more needed to be done.   "My concern and the concern of my colleagues is that this is new business for the police service and therefore needs to be treated as such," Mr Hyde said.   "My request would be that we ensure that we are doing everything possible to invest some of the income that is generated through the internet into making it a safer place."   "I have to say, however, that we have had massive support from our partners, including the government, to try to tackle this issues. But there is still plenty of things to do," said Mr Hyde.

The organisations also argued that the sentencing guidelines used for people possessing internet child porn should be reviewed as they were too crude.   They also called on computer makers and retailers to provide internet safety software to protect children from porn.

Source: BBC News


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