Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Child Porn on Rise; Worry over Online Indecency Incidents

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Child Porn on Rise; Worry over Online Indecency Incidents

Article excerpt

Byline: By Rhodri Phillips

A POLICE chief last night warned online grooming and the viewing of indecent images of children on the internet were on the increase in the North-East.

Head of the Northumbria Police Hi-Tech Crime Unit, Detective Sergeant Alan Batey, said the number of cases involving children from the region being approached inappropriately by adults in online chat-rooms had more than doubled in the last 12 months - from 15 last year to 30 so far in 2006.

The number of North-East adults accessing pornographic images of children on the internet is also rising - from 120 last year to 127 in the first 10 months of 2006.

He argued the increase in these offences was related to the steady rise in the number of internet users, but he warned the online criminal community that officers were catching up with them.

Det Sgt Batey also urged parents and teachers to monitor children's online use in a bid to stop them being lured into dangerous situations in internet chat-rooms.

He was speaking yesterday at a conference at The Copthorne Hotel, Newcastle, to mark the 10th anniversary of the Internet Watch Foundation, an organisation set up to deal with reports of child abuse online.

The conference was also the launchpad for a nationwide poster campaign to raise awareness of online child abuse.

Det Sgt Batey said: "This is a worrying trend. As the internet community grows, so does the criminal element in that community. The same goes for any community. The internet community is becoming massive.

"Our intelligence is improving all the time and we are working with other agencies to tackle the problem. We are always looking for new ways to police the internet.

"Although we are detecting offences, there are many other offences which go undetected. There is no such thing as 100% security or 100% safety.

"The grooming of children by adults in chat rooms is the most worrying development. These adults are either arranging to meet children or they are sending them inappropriate images on the internet. It can be one of the most difficult offences to detect."

Det Sgt Batey said that while it was possible to detect where viewers of obscene images lived it was more difficult to know where the victims came from. …

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