Page last updated at 10:58 GMT, Tuesday, 16 September 2008 11:58 UK

Sex offenders' PCs to be blocked

Sex offenders in the Thames Valley will be the first in the UK to have parental controls put on their computers.

The filtering software will be used to monitor the online activities of offenders convicted of internet related-crimes against children.

The trial will start in Buckinghamshire and, if successful, will be rolled out across the whole of the force area.

Monitoring computers was only made possible after judges backed changes to Sex Offenders Prevention Orders (SOPO).

Previously there have been limited conditions related to the internet but officers said this left it hard to police the actual activity.

This is the biggest breakthrough we've had to help manage internet offenders since the introduction of the Sex Offenders Act 2003
Det Sgt Sam Hayward, Thames Valley Police

With the backing of the Crown Court Judicial system, Thames Valley Police have been given permission to stipulate certain conditions in (SOPO).

They now ban individual offenders' access to the internet without supervision.

This has allowed the force to block access to certain websites or web content through the use of parental software.

Det Sgt Sam Hayward said: "This is the biggest breakthrough we've had to help manage internet offenders since the introduction of the Sex Offenders Act 2003.

"Judges are now allowing us to install this software on offenders' computers and stop them from accessing inappropriate material.

"This means that once they have been sentenced and are back in the community, it will make it very difficult for them to use a computer to re-offend."

The software's filtering tools can control which websites offenders visit, control peer-to-peer sharing of information and images and limit access to instant messaging, newsgroups and chatrooms.

It can also set time control limits, receive notification when an offender attempts to access a banned area of the internet, view reports on managed offenders' online footprint and remotely manage the online habits of every convicted sex offender.

Judges have also approved a condition for officers to inspect computers where the software is installed to prevent offenders tampering with the system.


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