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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 June, 2005, 15:11 GMT 16:11 UK
World paedophile register closer
Policewoman on a computer
The database would enable police time to be used more efficiently
Plans for a world paedophile register to help tackle people who prey on children look set to move a step closer at a summit of key economic powers.

G8 nation interior ministers decided in 2003 the database would be set up and are now looking at what is required to make it work technically.

It will store images of offenders and victims found on the web and computers.

Images will be shared across borders by police forces, making identification of offenders and victims easier.

UK Home Secretary Charles Clarke is chairing Thursday's Sheffield summit of interior ministers from the G8 - which is made up of seven of the world's richest nations plus Russia.

Speeding up investigations?

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The G8 two years ago commissioned a report on how we could do this with new technology and how we can work together well.

"Interpol has done the work ... and there has been very good progress. We have been able to use the technology and take it forward. And as a means of tackling this kind of vile organised crime, it is very positive."

A database run by British police already holds 800,000 images thought to involve 3,000 victims but only a limited number of children are understood to have been identified.

We will have a far more powerful tool than we have previously had
Charles Clarke
Home Secretary

A Home Office spokesman said the new project was expected to cost about 2m to set up.

Mr Clarke said: "It will allow comparison of images in a controlled and secure way, to free up officers' time so they can investigate other images.

"Technology allows us to overcome a number of problems in this area."

The computer software was expected to identify whether a room or background scene had been used in multiple images of child abuse, he said.

International gangs

It is hoped more paedophiles will be caught by combining information from different G8 countries about abusers, victims and locations - including international gangs who exploit cross-border weaknesses.

Mr Clarke said the database "will be up and running during the course of this calendar year", with other states likely to join once the project begins.

Work on drawing up plans for the international child sexual exploitation database began in 2003.

A report outlining the technical specifications required by police is expected to be given to Interpol in the autumn.

Drug seizures

Counter-terrorism, organised crime and tackling corruption in Africa are expected to be on the agenda.

Mr Clarke wants to persuade his G8 counterparts to sign up to a new global system to tackle people trafficking.

The human smuggling and trafficking message system (HST) would be based on another scheme which collates police data on global drug seizures.

Each time police and other law enforcers uncovered a case of human trafficking or a linked crime such as passport forging the information would be forwarded to Interpol and then passed on to other nations.




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
Charles Clarke explains how the database will work



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