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Tuesday, 18 January 2011

UK's first national website tracks child sex offenders

  • Published: Friday, 17 November 2006

"There will be nowhere to hide" said Chief Executive Jim Gamble today as his organisation - the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre - launched the UK's first national website dedicated to locating child sex offenders who have failed to comply with notification requirements.

"we want to do is maximise every available opportunity to locate those offenders"

Details of some of the UK's 'Most Wanted' offenders are now being posted on a dedicated website. This is the first time such a move has been undertaken on a nationwide scale. The new initiative reflects the continued determination of law enforcement partners to work together to ensure that every available step is taken to manage offenders within communities.

The site has been developed in association with Crimestoppers Most Wanted. It is designed to track child sex offenders who have tried to evade management by breaching their notification requirements. Details of the individuals sought are posted following a risk assessment so that any member of the public can report sightings to the appropriate authorities.

Jim Gamble explained the rationale: "The success of the Crimestoppers' website in gaining the support of the public to help track the UK's most wanted criminals is unprecedented here in the UK. Nearly 3 million hits a month, 40 million hits overall and 24 arrests since its launch last year show the power of using the internet to publicise details and gain public support.

"Now we need to move a lot of that success towards protecting children and safeguarding communities from harm. While it isn't new for the UK police to publish details of offenders on their own sites this is the first time that a nationwide - and indeed global - approach has been adopted."

The new initiative provides an opportunity for people everywhere to work with the CEOP Centre and law enforcement agencies to help track offenders who try to avoid being managed by the authorities. By failing to register and provide details of their whereabouts such individuals are committing a criminal offence under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This is an arrestable offence, with a punishment of up to five years imprisonment. Whilst individuals may not be wanted for outstanding sexual offences, their failure to comply is an indication of a potential risk of reoffending. "This is not something the CEOP Centre is prepared to accept," explains Jim Gamble.

Photographs of offenders will only be published with the consent of the local police force. Individual forces are under no obligation to publish their offenders on the Most Wanted site. Further offenders will be considered for inclusion on the 'Most Wanted' site in consultation with local police forces.

"We believe this new site will be an invaluable addition to the intelligence tool kit when compiling information about child sex offenders. It is not about publishing details of ALL sex offenders as this could drive the large number of compliant offenders underground and away from effective management programmes. What we want to do is maximise every available opportunity to locate those offenders who are actually 'missing' in order to protect children, young people and communities.

"If you are a convicted offender and think you can escape your notification requirements, or think you can move out of your region and go missing, then think again. Your details may now be posted on this site. Your picture will be there for the public to see, so that people can report you and we can locate you.

"After all, in our eyes you forego your right to anonymity when you fail to fulfil the terms of your conviction. In the interests of children everywhere we will do all we can to track you and prosecute. Thanks to this site, your opportunities to simply disappear are diminishing more rapidly than ever before."

Members of the public can safely help locate 'missing' offenders by viewing photos and descriptions via the CEOP and Crimestoppers websites. If they recognise someone they are urged to contact their local police force, or if they wish to remain anonymous they can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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