GCHQ to take role in tackling abuse

David Cameron
David Cameron
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INTELLIGENCE agency GCHQ is to be part of a new crackdown on online paedophilia, the Prime Minister will announce today.

GCHQ, better known for its work monitoring the communications of potential terrorists and rogue states, will set up a new joint unit with the National Crime Agency to tackle paedophiles using an area of the world wide web known as ‘dark net’ to try and avoid detection.

Major tech companies including Yahoo and Facebook will announce they will use the digital fingerprint of known abuse images to stop them being viewed on their services.

Google will also give technology it has developed that can stop abuse videos being shared online to other companies.

The Prime Minister said: “The package I am announcing today is a watershed moment in reducing the volume of child abuse images online. It marks significant progress in delivering a truly world-leading response to a global problem.

“The so-called ‘dark-net’ is increasingly used by paedophiles to view sickening images. I want them to hear loud and clear, we are shining a light on the web’s darkest corners; if you are thinking of offending there will be nowhere for you to hide.”

Microsoft, Google and Mozilla have promised to work on restrictions that will prevent users visiting sites known to carry abuse images through the populer Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox browsers.

The summit will also see 30 countries commit to tougher action to combat online paedophilia backed by a £50 million fund.

The chairman of the body responsible for overseeing the protection of children in Rotherham has warned that the focus on child sexual exploitation in the wake of the Jay report earlier this year should not distract from other dangers to young people.

Writing in the Rotherham Local Safeguarding Children Board’s annual report, Stephen Ashley says: “There will be no one who isn’t angry that this was allowed to happen in Rotherham, despite the warnings that should have been evident to officials and professionals working here. It is shameful that we have let these children down so badly.”

Mr Ashley calls for victims of the abuse pinpointed by Professor Jay to be identified and helped and for prosecutions.

He adds: “Neglect of our children and the effects that domestic abuse, substance misuse and mental health problems have on them also remains a huge concern.

“Whilst we must concentrate efforts on the issues in Professor Jay’s report, we must also ensure that we have resources in place to deal with these issues of neglect that can destroy the lives and futures of children and young people.”