CEOP Protects Hundreds Of Kids From Online Abuse

CEOP protected over 400 children from online threats last year, as parents turn to tech to track their offspring

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has managed to protect 414 children from online threats in the past year, as parents increasingly use tech to track their children’s whereabouts.

According to the latest figures from CEOP, in 2010 and 2011 the 414 children were protected from exploitation and abuse as a direct result of the work it carries out. It also said that 513 child sex offenders were arrested in the same period. This follows on from its warning last November that there had been a large increase in the number of online complaints it had received.

CEOP says that the results – its highest ever total – are thanks to its partnership approach of working with local and international forces.

Ongoing Battle

But CEOP also warned that the battle continues as it seeks to learn how offenders operate, how technology is exploited and how networks of paedophiles develop.

“Record results are an excellent way to celebrate our fifth anniversary and great credit should go to our people who work tirelessly to make every child matter,” said Peter Davies, a senior police officer who heads up the CEOP Centre. “It would be wrong however to suggest that all of this has been achieved by CEOP working in isolation. Every one of those children safeguarded, or those offenders arrested, has been as a direct result of the unique child-focused role we play in forging partnerships and honing collective knowledge, expertise and services from across all sectors.”

“I think today’s figures show that we are shining light in to those dark places, we are bringing this crime more into the open and are working collectively with many others to break down the taboos and obstacles that stop children getting the help and support they need,” he said.

“These are tremendous results and I want to congratulate all of those within CEOP and those who work alongside them to protect children from harm,” said Rt Hon Theresa May MP, the Home Secretary. “We want to build on these achievements, which is why CEOP will be an integral part of the new National Crime Agency.

“This will enable them to continue to lead law enforcement work protecting children at a national level and draw on wider resources and support to help keep even more children safe from harm in the future.”

Panic Button

The CEOP agency gained a lot of publicity last year thanks to its lobbying of the likes of Facebook to place a “panic button” on the social network for threatened children to use, if they thought a paedophile might be pestering them online.

Facebook initially resisted the idea, but it finally reached a compromise with CEOP, stating that both organisations were “aligned on making the Internet safer.”

But fresh concerns were sparked when a recent report found that some 7.5 million Facebook users are younger than 13 years old, which violates its terms of service for users, who are required to be 13 or older.

However Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently said that children under 13 should be allowed to use social networking sites, citing educational benefits.

And last month it emerged that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had begun an investigation over a possible security breach at CEOP following the discovery of unencrypted personal details. This potential breach centred on hyperlinks to a confidential page on the agency’s website, where people can report incidents of possible abuse.

Tracking The Kids

Meanwhile it seems that parents are turning to technology to help them keep track of their offspring.

A survey of 5,000 parents, carried out for National Family Week, found that parents are messaging their children three times a day, on average. The survey also discovered that parents are sending their children an average of 312 emails and 600 text messages every year to keep track of their whereabouts.

And it seems that 20 percent of parents use Facebook and other social networking sites to find out what their kids are up to.