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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 November 2005, 11:44 GMT
New centre to combat net abuse
Computer screen
Abusers can use the internet to groom victims
Details of a new UK centre to combat internet child abuse have been unveiled in Belfast.

Former PSNI Superintendent Jim Gamble, deputy director with the National Crime Squad, will run the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

It provides a single point of contact to report online child targeting.

Based in London, with up to 100 staff, it will also carry out investigations and work with police forces around the world to protect children.

Mr Gamble said partnerships with other police forces would help protect children across the world and target the assets of organised crime behind pay-per-view child pornography sites.

"You don't necessarily need common legislation to make this work, this is about common thinking, about every child mattering everywhere, it is about new thinking," he said.

"If you go to Russia and talk to the Russian authorities they are more than prepared to help you protect their and our children."

He said that they also wanted to change behaviour by working with children to ensure they were safe when they went online.

"This new centre means the internet has changed forever," he said.

We can see how they communicate, ways in which they avoid detection and also exchanging information about how to groom children
Rachel O'Connell
Forensic psychologist

"The way we're engaging children, the way we are focusing resources on those who are exploiting children for a profit motive means that people can't go on there with confidence and commit this offence."

Details of new guidelines aimed at keeping children safe while using search engines and chatrooms were also outlined at the EU/Virtual Global Taskforce Conference on Protecting Children Online at a Belfast hotel.

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said the guidance would ensure safer online standards for children.

"The internet is a great tool for children with massive benefits for our society, but we know that paedophiles will target children in any setting they can," he said.

Forensic psychologist Rachel O'Connell, who attended the conference, said it was important to learn more about how paedophiles worked together.

"We can see how they communicate, ways in which they avoid detection and also exchanging information about how to groom children," she said.

She said the conference was also bringing together major partnerships between the private and public sectors.

"The police have become far more sophisticated in the strategies they deploy to combat these activities and of course the internet is a force of transnational dissemination of this type of material so you need international police forces working together," she said.

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