'

Porn fills police educational Web site

Russian porn baron takes control of children's Web site

A Scottish police force has had to withdraw its promotion of a drug education Web site after it was found to contain hundreds of pornographic images.

Tayside Police who commissioned the creation of the Web site for thousands of local schoolchildren, was unaware the domain name had been taken over by a Russian porn merchant who had filled the site with adult-rated images.

There is no way of knowing how many children had viewed the sexually explicit material before police discovered the problem, but steps have been taken to alert children, school authorities and anti-drug campaigners to what has happened.

"It's highly regrettable that we've lost such an excellent resource -- but this is a problem that we would hope to eliminate in future educational Web sites," said Inspector Gordon Nicoll at Tayside Police.

The Tayside force is hoping that filters installed in schools by Dundee City Council will prevent any more children from accessing the site. It has also removed all references to the site from its literature, and has recalled thousands of pounds worth of pamphlets intended to direct children to the Web site.

The Web site was developed by a private company that has since gone into liquidation. Tayside Police Force was unaware that the company had ceased trading and had failed to renew the site's domain name. A Russian company has now gained control of the domain name and mapped it to a site containing sexually explicit adult content.

Every upper-primary and secondary school in the area had been encouraged to log onto the site to learn about the dangers of drug-taking. The Web site had recently received a Yell award, and had been hailed as a good example of how young people could access information on drug abuse.

Tayside Police has said it may incorporate the educational files from the original Web site into the force's own site.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet News forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.