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UK police share data to foil child abuse

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UK police have begun trials of a system that makes it easier for investigators to share information on online child abuse cases.

The information-sharing system has already assisted in two investigations into suspect paedophiles and will help improve detection rates, according to Jim Gamble, chief executive of the UK's Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.

The Child Exploitation Tracking System (CETS) is being put through its paces by three police forces in England and Wales as well as a region in Scotland. If successful, it's hoped the technology may be rolled out across the UK, giving police access to a database on child sex offenders.

Early results have being positive. The system helped forces to compare notes on a suspect investigators reckon has been grooming around 150 children online. It also helped police identify a paedophile who was using the pretext of sharing photos online to lure children into abuse over the last 10 years.

CEOP said the technology is a timely addition to police investigative tools at a time when online grooming is on the increase.

"In the past, police officers simply didn't understand the internet. It was like a labyrinth to them," Gamble said, the BBC reports. "But we are now upstream of (online paedophiles) and waiting for their next move."

In other online child abuse news, US investigators arrested 125 people from across the country over allegations they downloaded videos and images of chid abuse from a paedophile website. Suspects include police officers, high school teachers, and a federal border patrol agent, Reuters reports.

Some of those arrested have previous convictions for child sex offences. The arrests came as a result of "Operation Emissary", which involved the execution of 225 search warrants. ®

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