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Record numbers of children saved from abuse
A specialist in cases involving abuse has welcomed the news that over the last twelve months, a record number of children have been rescued from online abuse.
Mark Hatzer, a partner at Fentons Solicitors LLP, was commenting after the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) - a specialist police unit tasked with tracking online paedophiles and bringing them to court - released their annual report, announcing that for the fifth consecutive year, they had identified and rescued hundreds of victims of online child abuse.
"While any news of children being saved from abuse is of course something to celebrate," said Mark; "this latest report should rightfully hammer home the disturbingly terrifying scale of online child abuse that exists in this country and across the world."
In its most successful year since its formation in 2006, CEOP's annual report revealed that their actions had helped 414 children, led to a record 513 arrests and helped to dismantle 132 high-risk online paedophile networks. In the last five years, CEOP have shut down 394 online sex-offender networks and helped arrest a staggering 1,644 suspected paedophiles.
In this month alone, 132 children in the UK were rescued after police shut down the largest international paedophile ring of its kind in the UK, responsible for distributing millions of indecent images and films to 46 different countries. Four men pleaded guilty at Nottingham Crown Court to various charges of making, distributing and possessing indecent images of children. As a result, a number of paedophiles were removed from positions of trust that included jobs as teachers, doctors and youth workers.
"While it is of considerable comfort to acknowledge the tremendous success of those working so diligently to contain this type of offending, these figures are simply horrific," said Mark. "In light of this report, it is absolutely crucial that we as a society recognise the constant and incredibly serious threat vulnerable children face by people of this nature every time they appear online. This is an ongoing battle. The plague of online paedophilia continues to inflict unimaginable suffering with more and more images depicting younger and younger children surfacing online each and every day.
"This cannot be allowed to continue," added Mark. "Few of us can comprehend how certain people - especially those placed in positions of trust - can act, seemingly without conscience, to wilfully destroy the lives of those who are most vulnerable to their depravity. Crimes of this despicable nature simply cannot be tolerated. We must do everything we possibly can to better report and understand the scale of this problem. We must further strive to tackle abuse of this nature happening in the first place and we must ruthlessly pursue and prosecute those who seek to live their lives destroying others, no matter how complex the methods they employ to mask their activities.
"Furthermore, what is of grave concern is the tragically huge amount of abuse that currently goes unreported," said Mark. "We need to do more to identify those who are a risk to children and more to identify those who are at risk of being abused. In addition, we must particularly endeavour to identify those children who are already subject to abuse and those having to suffer the horrors they experience in total silence."
CEOP - which is currently affiliated to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) - will be merged with the new National Crime Agency when it is formed in 2013. Home Secretary, Theresa May has said the move will enable CEOP to "draw on wider resources and support to help keep even more children safe from harm in the future."
How can Fentons help?
Fentons has a specialist department experienced in helping victims of abuse.
If you would like to talk to one of our experts in confidence then please contact us on 0161 684 6643 or 0161 238 6440.
Read more at Sky News
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