NSPCC calls for better online crime reporting

Children's charity the NSPCC is calling for a better system to report online child abuse

The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) is asking more than 185,000 of its supporters to write to David Blunkett, the home secretary, and call for better facilities to report Internet crimes against children.

The organisation is campaigning for a dedicated organisation to investigate online child abuse. The charity said that a specialist team of police and child protection officers was needed to act as a 'national reference point' to report online child abuse.

"UK policing is getting good at arresting people for possessing and distributing child abuse images from the Internet," said NSPCC Internet policy advisor Chris Atkinson. "However, police lack resources and training to find the people who are producing these images in the first place. A 'national referral point' is the most effective way of searching for these criminals and also the children they have abused when making these images."

The charity said the scheme would focus police resources, provide an online '999' for emergencies and target those who create child sexual abuse images.

"The partnership between agencies in the UK including police, children's charities, industry and government is one of the best in the world," said Stuart Hyde, a spokesman for the Association of Chief Police Officers. "To make that partnership more effective we need to invest much more effort and resources to match the growing demand and protect our children. Creating a national facility, capable of understanding these dangers and concerns will help local police forces and child protection professionals deal with child abuse online.”

The move is part of the NSPCC’s FULL STOP campaign to end cruelty to children.

The call echoes the European Information Society Group, request for the government for IT professionals to act as special constables to help police the Internet. The security lobby group says this request has won the support of commissioner of Metropolitan police Sir John Stevens.

Yesterday the chairman of EURIM, Brian White, MP, said: "I think we should be using special constables. IT managers could be given special powers. If they were trained in evidence gathering, they could report straight to the Crown Prosecution Service. [They could] secure crime scenes and give records to court, for example."

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