Boris Johnson pledges £30million to crack down on paedophiles ‘preying’ on children online

BORIS JOHNSON last night pledged an extra £30million to boost the fight against using the internet to abuse and exploit youngsters. In the latest move in his effort to put law and order at the heart of Government policy, the Prime Minister announced the cash to hunt down offenders operating on the so-called “dark web”.

Paedophiles

The Government want to crack down on online paedophiles (Image: Francis DEMANGE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty I)

Ministers also published plans to give victims and their families the right to appeal against unduly lenient sentences imposed on abusers by the courts. The latest crackdown on sexual offences follows Mr Johnson’s promise to recruit 20,000 more police. Warning of the need to intensify the fight against online crime, he said: “The internet has revolutionised the world by opening up society, facilitating the exchange of ideas, increasing the flow of goods and empowering people in a way many never thought possible. “Yet while the internet can be an immeasurable force for good, it can also be used to provide a safe space for criminals.

“That is why are taking further steps to combat those who use the internet to prey upon children.

“Just as we’re giving the police more resources and recruiting 20,000 more officers to keep our streets safe, we are also putting more money and the very best of our world-leading technical abilities into catching offenders operating in the dark web.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel said: “Vile predators who prowl the internet abusing children are cowards who need to be caught and punished.

“That’s why it’s essential we give our law enforcement agencies the support, resources and powers they need to bring them to justice.

“This extra £30million will help do this – ensuring online paedophiles are no longer able to hide in the shadows preying on our society’s most vulnerable.”  

The £30million funding boost for fighting online abuse will be used to equip police with pioneering new technology for tracking down perverts using the “dark web”.

Figures from the National Crime Agency show that 2.8 million online accounts were registered to get access to the most harmful child sexual abuse dark web sites last year.

At least five percent of that total were believed to be registered in the UK.

The cash will help expand the UK’s Child Abuse Image Database (CAID), a resource that provides law enforcement agencies with artificial intelligence tools to search seized devices for indecent images of children, reducing the time taken to identify illegal images of children and increasing the ability to identify victims.

Police have been stepping up their investigations of the “dark web’ in recent months.

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson wants to recruit 20,000 new policemen and women (Image: Getty)

Earlier this year, Kyle Fox, from Surrey, was jailed for 22 years after being convicted of sexually assaulting a three-year-old on the dark web.

The NCA launched an investigation and traced the suspect to his home in the UK.

The suspect’s face was not visible in the abuse videos, but investigators were able to use specialist capabilities to piece together clues, including clothing, to identify him and both victims.

Last year, Dr Matthew Falder pleaded guilty to 137 offences linked to the dark web.

CAID was first introduced to police forces from December 2014 and hosts 14 million images.

In a separate move, the Ministry of Justice last night pledged to expand the Unduly Lenient Sentence scheme to 14 new offences including stalking, harassment, child sexual abuse and other sex offences.

The scheme gives victims the power to question sentences imposed by courts.

The scheme gives victims and their relatives the power to ask the Attorney General to consider referring a sentence to the Court of Appeal for reconsideration.

Crimes including murder, robbery, and a range of terror offences are already covered by the scheme.

New Home Secretary Priti Patel

New Home Secretary Priti Patel (Image: Getty)

Last night’s announcement aims to bring more offences including controlling and coercive behaviour within scope as well as further child sexual abuse offences, such as those involving the taking, distributing and publishing of indecent images of children and abusing a position of trust with a child into the scheme.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said: “We are determined that those found guilty of heinous crimes such as child sex offences receive the sentences their actions warrant.

“Sentences are decided by our independent judiciary based on the facts before them, but it is absolutely right that victims have a voice in the system when punishments don’t appear to fit the crime.

“We are today sending a clear message that this government will use every tool at its disposal to make sure justice is done and the public is kept safe.”

Michael Ellis, the Solicitor General, added: “The Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme can bring comfort to victims and their families across the country. The latest extension means that the Attorney General and I can look at even more sentences which look like they don’t fit the crime.

“Anyone can apply to the scheme and although there is a high bar to any appeal we will do everything we can to challenge a sentence that we regard to be clearly wrong.”

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