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A new website identifies paedophiles who have gone missing.

The move by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) centre represents the first time UK law enforcement authorities have teamed up to publically publish details of convicted child abuse offenders. Information on the site includes the details of five convicts who have gone "underground" including their names (and known aliases), ages, and photographs, but omitting details of their convictions or the time they might have served in prison prior to their release into the community.

The men listed have failed to comply with legal restrictions - imposed when their names were placed on the Sex Offenders Register - that mean they have to report their whereabouts to police. Failing to abide by these conditions makes the men liable for arrest and up to five years imprisonment if convicted under the Sexual Offences Act 2003. CEOP hopes its initiative will prompt members of the public to come forward with information on the whereabouts of the offenders.

UK police have previously avoided the location and identity of child abuse offenders out of concerns it could provoke vigilante attacks that might prompt more paedophiles to go underground. The CEOP site advises members of the public to report possible sightings to the police (or by phoning Crimestoppers free on 0800 555 111) rather than taking action themselves.

UK Sunday newspaper the News of the World, which has campaigned for years for the right of parents to know if paedophiles were living in their communities, has welcomed the development, the BBC reports.

The CEOP scheme is being run in conjunction with the established Crimestoppers Most Wanted site, which aims to solicit help from the public in tracking down other types of wanted criminals. Crimestoppers' Most Wanted site has led to 24 arrests since it began operation in November last year.

CEOP centre chief executive Jim Gamble said: "The success of the Crimestoppers' website in gaining the support of the public to help track the UK's most wanted criminals is unprecedented here in the UK. Now we need to move a lot of that success towards protecting children and safeguarding communities from harm.

"I cannot emphasise strongly enough the need for the public to act responsibly if they believe they know the location of a sought offender. They must make immediate reports of sightings so that the police can take appropriate action. Any vigilante activity will be robustly dealt with and is likely to constitute a criminal offence." ®

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