Virtual crackdown on paedophiles

Police plan to patrol internet chatrooms as part of a multinational crackdown on paedophile rings.

    Internet chatrooms are being abused by paedophiles

    They will also seize the finances of website operators who

    peddle child pornography and freeze the credit cards of their

    customers.

    "We want to create the equivalent of a beat cop for the

    Internet," said the UK's National Crime Squad Assistant Chief

    Constable Jim Gamble.

    Police from Britain, the United States, Canada and Australia

    are to form a global taskforce with the primary aim of stopping

    paedophiles luring children into offline encounters.

    "This should not be viewed as a Big Brother tactic - this

    is about police becoming more visible on the Internet," Gamble said

    on Wednesday.

    Potential predators

    Under the plan, an officer would appear in a chat area from

    time to time to observe conversations and would be identified

    with a type of "cyber badge" or icon for the "Virtual Global

    Task Force" to let everyone in the chatroom know.

    "We want to give the potential predator the idea that we are

    present to make them think 'will I loiter here or will I flee

    from that particular chatroom?'"

    "We want to create the equivalent of a beat cop for the

    Internet...

    We want to give the potential predator the idea that we are

    present to make them think 'will I loiter here or will I flee

    from that particular chatroom?'"

    Jim Gamble,

    UK National Crime Squad

    The problem of paedophile "grooming" of children in

    chatrooms has been growing.

    Last year, Microsoft's MSN Web portal shut down chatrooms in

    nearly every country where it operated, saying they had become a

    haven for paedophiles and spam-peddlers.

    The move was greeted with mixed emotions. Child safety

    groups welcomed it, but others feared that the criminal element

    would burrow further underground to prey on victims.

    Taskforce

    Gamble also said the taskforce would begin working with

    banks, credit card associations and internet service providers

    to identify websites that sell access to illegal content,

    notably child pornography.

    The aim is to freeze the assets of these website operators.

    "We are looking to strip the money out of organised crime," he

    said.

    Gamble had no timeframe for when he would like to see the

    initiative begin.

    The National Crime Squad is working, among others, with

    America's Federal Bureau of Investigation, The Royal Canadian

    Mounted Police and the Australian Federal Police.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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