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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 20:44 GMT
Users flood 'Most Wanted' website
Mick Laurie, Crimestoppers chief executive
Mr Laurie said technology ensured e-mailers could remain anonymous
An FBI-style website, aimed at tracking the UK's most wanted crime suspects, has received more than 350,000 hits on its first day.

The site, launched by Crimestoppers, lists police appeals in the UK as well as pictures of wanted suspects.

The Most Wanted site proved so popular on the morning of its launch, it received 21,000 hits in five minutes.

But many people were unable to access the site, Mick Laurie, chief executive of Crimestoppers, said.

The public will be able to view the photographs, CCTV footage and descriptions of the wanted suspects at www.mostwanted-uk.org and contact police by phone or online.

On Thursday night the site displayed a message which said it could not be accessed because it was still "too busy" as a result of its "unprecedented popularity".

We must make sure the public can give information using all possible means of communication
Lord Ashcroft
Crimestoppers founder

It is the first time police have been able to receive crime tip-offs anonymously online, Crimestoppers says.

People accessing the site will be able to view pictures of the most wanted suspects in their own local communities as well as nationwide appeals.

Crimestoppers' founder Lord Ashcroft said that, as an independent charity, Crimestoppers was in a unique position to receive information from the public that the police would never be able to receive.

"This exciting innovation is something that's been needed for a very long time," he said.

"We believe the Most Wanted website will grow into an essential resource for all police forces.

"With 60% of the population online, we must make sure the public can give information using all possible means of communication."

Passers-by give their views on the new website.

Detective Superintendent Sean Cunningham of the Metropolitan Police said his officers were helped by the raw information gathered by Crimestoppers.

"They take and process that information into intelligence that we pass to our operational teams and it's those operational teams that go out and save lives..." he said.

"The internet is used for all types of crime. This is one step back toward reclaiming that and making the internet work for us.

"I encourage all forces to log on to the Most Wanted website. The public are the police."

Dave Cording from Crimestoppers said the police would edit the website.

"My concern is the same as everyone else: I don't want trivia on that website and we've had a long process of testing this with a number of key forces."

It is astonishing this has never happened before
Nick Ross
Crimewatch

Mick Laurie said that technology would strip out the details of people e-mailing information to the site so that they could be sure of anonymity.

"These are people who are close to criminals or fear for their safety," he said, at the website's launch.

"We believe this will be a great success."

Nick Ross, presenter of the BBC's Crimewatch programme, hailed it as the "biggest advance since the 'Wanted' poster".

He said: "It is astonishing this has never happened before. Apart from Crimewatch there is virtually no way of getting national publicity for most cases and many wanted people could just disappear - until now.

"Even the police have no effective way of communicating the huge number of wanted suspects."

Murder hunts

Suspects featured on the site include:

  • Hayman Mustafa, 26, wanted over the murder of 32-year-old Ahmed El-Hamid who was stabbed to death in Teddington, south-west London in August 2003.

    Mr Mustafa is of Arabic appearance, about 5ft 6in to 5ft 8in tall and of stocky build. He has a moustache and was last seen wearing a white T-shirt with blue writing, blue jeans and white Nike trainers.

  • Youseff Ahmed Wahid, born 1968, is wanted ifor the murder of Fatima Kama whose body was found inside a suitcase in a Terminal Three car park at Heathrow Airport in July 1999.

    Wahid, who is of Lebanese origin, was living in the Edgware Road area of London at the time, having visited from the US. He is known to have fled to Beirut shortly after the killing.

  • Ayub Khan, wanted in connection with a double murder in east London in August 2003.

    He is described as aged 20-25, 5ft 6ins tall, with short black hair and a beard. He is of thin build and has a scar on the right side of his face. There is a 10,000 reward for information leading to his arrest and conviction.

  • James Francis Hurley, 42, a convicted murderer and armed robber who escaped while being transferred between prisons in February 1994.

    He is described as being white and about 6ft tall.

  • Joseph Oduguwa, 42, wanted in connection with a substantial fraud.

    He is believed to have connections in Nigeria and may be in the African country.

    He is described as being black, of stocky build, with short black hair and a beard.

    Crimestoppers was set up in 1988, since when it has received more than 640,000 calls, resulting in more than 57,000 arrests and charges.

    Every month it receives an average of 6,000 anonymous calls which lead to more than 500 arrests.




  • BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
    See some of the people featured on the website



    SEE ALSO:
    Crime line goes round the clock
    15 Mar 04 |  Scotland
    Crime line rings up record calls
    22 Jan 04 |  Scotland


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