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Calls for more action to improve online safety

Efforts by the internet industry to eradicate images of child abuse online may prove "woefully insufficient", MPs said as they called for more action to improve online safety.

More: Search engines step up to the plate with reforms

Seven new staff members at the Internet Watch Foundation may not be enough, MPs said. Credit: PA

The call comes as it emerged that additional funding to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) has resulted in the recruitment of seven extra full-time staff to track down illegal images.

Last year Google pledged £1 million to tackle the issue of child abuse images online.

The move came amid severe criticism of internet firms for inaction following a number of child murder cases with porn connections.

Trafficking cases involving UK children up by 173%

In total the number of cases involving Britons or the UK as country of origin rose 173% to 90; of those, 63 were children.

Increased awareness, both of human trafficking in its various forms and the obligation of first responders to use the National Referral Mechanism, is a likely contributor to the increased number of referrals in 2013.

We know that this is a crime which affects some of society's most vulnerable people, and some victims will remain undetected.

Equally, some of those referred to the NRM may not ultimately be classified as victims of human trafficking.

The NCA is committed to relentlessly disrupting what is a criminal trade in human misery.

– Liam Vernon, Head of the NCA's UK Human Trafficking Centre.

Of the number of minors identified as potential victims, 45 were classed as possible domestic servitude (up 2% on 2012), 123 as labour exploitation (up 24%) and 138 were unknown (up 9%).

Of the adults, 141 were classed as domestic servitude (up 18%), 511 labour exploitation (89% rise), 581 sexual exploitation (53% rise), and 62 unknown (up 44%).

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NCA: 1,700 potential child abuse trafficking victims

New NCA figures on trafficking show that for children the most common nationality or country of origin was Vietnam, followed by the UK and then Albania.

The figures are the number of cases highlighted under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), used to bring possible victims to the authorities' attention.

The NCA said that 1,746 people from 112 different countries were highlighted as as potential victims of traffickers last year, up 47% on the previous year. Nearly two thirds of those referred were female (1,122) and around a quarter (450) were children.

Child abuse trafficking doubles in a year, figures show

The number of UK-born children identified as being trafficked for sexual abuse more than doubled last year.

The Nationa Crime Agency has released new data. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Archive/Press Association Images

Data released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) showed that 56 minors who are from the UK were flagged up as potential victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in 2013, a rise of 155% on the previous year.

It is not clear whether they were being taken out of the country or moved within the UK, the NCA said. The number of foreign children identified as being at risk also rose by 11%, to 88.

NSPCC: Online training 'an absolute must'

Training for education, healthcare and children protection workers in technology used to abuse children online is "an absolute must", the NSPCC have said.

Jon Brown, the NSPCC lead on tackling sexual abuse, added:

Training to protect children from online abuse is an absolute must for those in social work, health, education and law.

It won't necessarily make them experts but will help them stay in touch with a rapidly changing technological world which poses a variety of risks for the young.

– Jon Brown NSPCC

'81% of carers' for abused children not trained in online

The overwhelming majority of professionals who care for abused children admit they have had no training in how to help children recover from the online element, a survey revealed.

A poll of 692 school nurses, health visitors, paediatricians, social workers, child protection advisers, family and education welfare officers, teachers and learning support assistants also found:

  • Of the 81% who said they had not been trained in how to help children recover from the online element of their abuse, 94% added they wanted that training.
  • 70% of those stated they had not received training in online risk assessment.
  • 95.5% saying they would value such training.

Read more: Carers for child abuse victims 'not trained' for online

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Carers for child abuse victims 'not trained' for online

Professionals looking after child abuse victims cannot properly support them because they are not trained to understand the technology used by perpetrators, academics have found.

Read more: 17 Brits held over 'child abuse streamed live from Philippines'

Online abuse
Carers looking after vulnerable children need more training in technology, a study found. Credit: PA

A group of University researchers revealed a black hole in the knowledge of education, health and children's services staff, as they cannot keep up with the online technology used to abuse children.

The study, carried out by researchers at Plymouth University and University Campus Suffolk for victims' charity Marie Collins Foundation, found pedophiles have become more ingenious in their use of technology to engage with vulnerable children.

However, the training available to professionals has not kept up.

Andy Phippen, professor at Plymouth University, said: "The fast pace of its development has in many cases left the authorities playing catch-up and while some now have policies in place, a huge amount of work is required to ensure those affected by online abuse receive the correct support."

Read more: Google to block abuse images

Pope Benedict 'defrocked nearly 400 priests for abuse'

Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children according to a document obtained by the Associated Press.

Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI Credit: REUTERS/Max Rossi/Kai Pfaffenbach/Files

The statistic, which relates to 2011 and 2012, emerged in the testimony of the Vatican's UN ambassador in Geneva, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, before a UN committee.

The Holy See has had to defend itself before the UN human rights committee this week following reports of widespread child abuse in the Catholic Church.

Previously, the Vatican has only revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received.

Police tracked abuse network through sex offender

An inquiry was prompted when Northamptonshire Police visited registered sex offender Timothy Ford and began tracking the international abuse network from obscene videos they found on his computer. He was paying to view live sex abuse and planned to move to the Philippines to open an internet cafe

The use of webcams to stream live abuse, particularly from the developing world, is a significant and emerging threat according to the NCA's CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) command.

Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high-speed internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base has led to organised crime groups exploiting children for financial gain.

– National Crime Agency statement

Instead was jailed for eight-and-a-half years in March last year.Another member of the paedophile network, Thomas Owen, who had nearly four million images of child abuse when he was arrested, was jailed for seven years in July last year.

If you know of anyone who has been a victim of abuse contact Child exploitation an Online Protection Centre (CEOP) via its website or call +44 (0)870 000 3344.

Police target 'extremely dangerous' child sex offenders

The National Crime Agency said that a joint police investigation had identified "extremely dangerous child sexual offenders".

This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with.

Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt. In my mind they are just as responsible for the abuse of these children as the contact abusers overseas.

Protecting the victims of abuse is our priority and that means attacking every link in the chain, from dismantling the organised groups who are motivated by profit through to targeting their customers.

– Andy Baker from the National Crime Agency

So far 15 children aged six to 15 have been rescued after being identified as victims. In some cases their own relatives sold them for abuse.

In the UK five of the 17 suspects arrested have been convicted, nine investigations are ongoing, one will face no further action and two are dead.

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