Police in Britain will be able to access images from abroad
An international computer database containing more than 150,000 paedophile images is to be set up to help police identify victims.
Ministers from the G8 group of industrialised nations - including British Home Secretary David Blunkett - approved the scheme at a meeting in Paris on Monday.
Currently many of the photographs of victims are available only on national databases or in police files, making it difficult to cross-reference the children involved.
It is also difficult for police to pursue prosecutions in other countries.
UK Attorney General Lord Goldsmith said: "Child
abuse both on and off-line is an international problem which affects all countries, where we can achieve more by working together than we can alone.
"This is not an issue that any country can address in isolation.
"The internet is used to trade and sell images across international borders and organised crime has demonstrated its willingness to exploit this.
"Our experience in the UK in combating commercial sites which host child pornography is that the majority of these sites are located overseas, including
within other G8 countries."
Britain, the USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia agreed last October on a strategy to protect children from sexual exploitation, which focused on the sharing of intelligence, victim
identification, suspect location and prevention.
UK crime squad
Access to the International Child Pornography Image Database will be strictly limited to law enforcement agencies of participating countries, as well as to
international crime-fighting bodies Interpol and Europol.
Lord Goldsmith said on Monday: "The initiative for an International Image Database that we have discussed today will take forward and add to the progress we have made in the UK to crack down on child abuse.
The initiative...we have discussed today will take forward and add to the progress we have made in the UK to crack down on child abuse.
"The threat posed to all our countries by online child abuse is significant.
"This international problem can only be combated through effective international co-operation and the implementation of the measures in the G8 strategy will be
The UK's National Crime Squad is to lead a study into the best way of delivering and managing the plan.
Applications have been made to the European
Commission for funding for the database, which is also backed by four non-G8
members of the EU.