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One Click From Danger

Panorama returns with an investigation into how paedophiles are using the internet, and social networking sites in particular, as a means of grooming unsuspecting youngsters for sex.

Computer keyboard
Panorama: One Click from Danger, Monday 7 January 2008, BBC One 8.30pm.
Every day children are putting themselves at risk because of their actions on the internet.

Brighton teenagers Ellie Budd and Olivia Lewis, both 14 at the time, joined in on the social networking phenomenon.

They each created their own profiles and posted them on MySpace, one of several popular social networking sites.

But the girls didn't realise their profiles were attracting the wrong kind of attention.

Obscene images

Popcorn Puppy, claimed to be a 26-year-old woman and asked to join their buddy list.

In fact he was a 55-year-old predatory paedophile called Ian Hunter.

Specialist teams of police officers are using the anonymity of the internet to flush out predators who have gone online to find underage victims for sex
Hunter stalked Ellie on a school trip to the Tate Modern in London after he gleaned the details from online chats between the group of friends.

When the police arrested him, they found more than 20,000 obscene images of children at his home - some of the worst they had even seen.

Hunter was sentenced to two years (in total) imprisonment in October and the grooming charges were ordered to lie on file.

Following Ellie and Olivia's experience, Panorama decided to carry out its own test.

One of our researchers went online ten times between four and six in the evening, just as school finished, posing as a 14-year-old girl.

Jeremy Vine with DS Nick Duffield
DS Nick Duffield tells Jeremy how the police are on the trail of paedophiles
'Jane Brown's' fictional profile was barely more than a photo (which we had posted on three different social networking sites) but lots of men came online to chat and almost without exception the chats quickly became sleazy.

'Jane' was asked to strip, reveal her bra size, get naked on a webcam, sent unsolicited images of male genitalia and even asked to meet up in person by older men.

Specialist teams

Reporter Jeremy Vine finds out how the police are tackling this problem.

Specialist teams of police officers are using the anonymity of the internet to flush out predators who have gone online to find underage victims for sex.

DS Nick Duffield, of the Metropolitan Police's Paedophile Unit said: "We run a number of operations, as do police forces throughout the country, (where) we'll purport to be young children ourselves and we'll set a profile up, and what we're finding is that on a daily basis individuals are wanting to talk to us, wanting to groom us, gain our confidence, talk sexually to us, and on occasions actually want to come and meet us.

"The individuals who... arrange to meet us and come along to that meeting, will find that it's police officers waiting for them and not a 12 year old girl."

Jeremy Vine also talks to 'Peter'', a man who used the internet to make contact with young teenagers. He now regrets the damage he has caused.

Peter's advice is to keep children out of the clutches of men like him - keep the computer out of the child's bedroom.

The programme will also feature results of an opinion poll showing the difference between what parents think their children are doing and saying on the internet and what their children are actually doing and saying online.

Panorama: One Click from Danger, Monday 7 January 2008, BBC One 8.30pm.

SEE ALSO
Transcript: One Click from Danger
10 Jan 08 |  Panorama

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