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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 October 2007, 11:53 GMT
Interviews with abusers examined
Unidentified child sitting on stairs
It is hoped information will help to improve child education campaigns
Child abuse experts at a new specialist police unit will study hundreds of hours of interviews with paedophiles to find out how they think and behave.

The information will be used to identify patterns of behaviour and to build criminal profiles.

The centre is based on a similar FBI unit in the US.

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith will open the unit, part of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop), later.

Ms Smith told BBC News: "This will look at interviews already carried out with paedophiles, so that we can get inside the head of those who want to abuse our children, making us more likely to be able to catch them and get them out of the way of the sort of harm that they're bringing to children."

The centre was an example of how the UK was a "world leader" in tackling child abuse, she added.

We are going to know what they think before they do so that next time they arrive in a place where a child is vulnerable we will be there waiting for them
Jim Gamble

As well as examining what individuals say in interviews, the team will also analyse body language and unconscious facial gestures to try and glean insight into the true feelings of the paedophiles.

Ceop head Jim Gamble said the information would help police stay ahead of paedophiles who were constantly changing their methods.

"We are going to know what they think before they do so that next time they arrive in a place where a child is vulnerable we will be there waiting for them," he said.

The information would also help police to improve education campaigns for children, he added.

Nine offenders who were on the run but subsequently traced after appearing on Ceop's "most wanted" website are among those whose interviews will be studied.

The unit was welcomed by Adam Hildreth, a member of the Family Online Safety Institute's board, who said understanding why and how paedophiles act was key to keeping ahead of them.

"I am convinced that this is the way to catch paedophiles."

'Better protection'

Also on Tuesday, Ceop launched its own educational academy.

Child protection workers from a number of fields, including police and the charity sector, will be able to study for a University of Central Lancashire-accredited qualification.

Mr Gamble said that would help create a field of experts with up-to-date knowledge of child protection techniques.

"What we are doing today is building a resource that will be focused on honing that understanding.

"It will look to build factual, contemporary knowledge of how offenders operate and justify their behaviour."

The qualification would become a "foundation towards better protection through better understanding," he added.

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