Page last updated at 23:37 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 00:37 UK

Increase in sex offender arrests

Man's hand on a computer keyboard
More than a million images of child sex abuse were received by Ceop

The number of suspected child sex offenders arrested in the UK has risen threefold in the past year, says the organisation set up to tackle abuse.

Nearly 300 suspects were arrested and 131 children protected after work by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).

Ceop, set up as part of UK police in 2006, says it helped break up six international paedophile networks.

It said it had also located 25 of the UK's highest risk child sex offenders.

The most high profile of these is Timothy Cox, who was convicted in June last year of running a child abuse network from his bedroom at a farmhouse in Buxhall, Suffolk.

More than 75,000 indecent and explicit images were found on Cox's computer from which he had supplied more than 11,000 to other site users via a website he called "Kids the Light of Our Lives".

Ceop was set up in April 2006 to help track some of the UK's highest risk sex offenders and protect children from sexual abuse.

Ceop chief on how police unit has been a success

Based in London, it works by bringing law enforcers in the UK, the US, Canada and Australia together with the information technology industry, as well as charities and schools.

During the last year Ceop has uncovered around a million images of child sex abuse. It studies each image to help build up intelligence, track offenders, or use as vital parts of an investigative jigsaw.

Eighteen young victims have been identified as a result of this jigsaw work alone.

Nearly 6,000 reports of potential child sex abuse have been received by Ceop in the last 12 months - a significant increase on the previous year.

These reports come from police forces, the child protection community and the public, who can report the abuse by logging onto Ceop's website.

Ceop also runs an education programme which has given safety advice to 1.7m children in the past year.

Jim Gamble, chief executive of Ceop said the new figures were the result of collaborative action.

"By us all working together 131 children are now safeguarded from some of the worst abuse imaginable - that is true impact," he said.

"I hope offenders take note. Look at the ways in which together we are infiltrating your worlds, understanding your minds in order to limit deviant behaviour and I hope you think again."

Mr Gamble said he now wanted more work to be done to convince online operators to demonstrate their commitment to child safety in a "clear and unambiguous way".

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