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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 October 2006, 19:48 GMT 20:48 UK
Police to share paedophile data
Jim Gamble
Complaints over online grooming are rising, Mr Gamble says
Children's lives will be saved by powerful new information-sharing software designed to help police catch online paedophiles, it is claimed.

The system has already helped two investigations into suspected sex offenders, said Jim Gamble, head of the UK's online protection unit.

Mr Gamble said the software would radically improve detection rates amid rising concerns over online grooming.

Three forces in England and Wales and a Scottish crime unit will now pilot it.

Under current plans, the Child Exploitation Tracking System (Cets) will be piloted by three police forces in England and Wales as well as a crime unit in Scotland.

In the past, police officers simply didn't understand the internet. It was like a labyrinth to them
Jim Gamble, CEOP chief executive

Mr Gamble, chief executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, said the system, which his unit has been using for several months, formed the "engine room" of his operation.

He said: "It saves time and it saves lives and makes our job that much easier and helps to make the work we do more effective."

Cets helped three forces to compare information about a suspected paedophile who detectives think had been grooming around 150 children online.

It also helped police find a paedophile who had been grooming children for ten years by sharing photos over the internet.

Police improvement

He said the police now had better technological awareness than paedophiles.

Mr Gamble said: "In the past, police officers simply didn't understand the internet. It was like a labyrinth to them.

"But we are now upstream of (online paedophiles) and waiting for their next move."

He said the CEOP had seen a "dramatic rise" recently in the number of reports concerning online grooming.

Mr Gamble added: "In the first 200 days of the CEOP's life we have rescued five children from the actual hands of abusers."

If the pilot proves a success, then it is hoped that the scheme will be rolled out nationally to provide a national database for intelligence on sex offenders.

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