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Monday, 24 November 2014

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Cumbria police wage hi-tech war on child porn

Police in Cumbria have begun fitting electronic filters to the personal computers of convicted child porn perverts to stop them accessing any more online filth.

Det Supt Andy Slattery photo
Det Supt Andy Slattery

New technology is now monitoring the home computers of paedophiles out of jail on licence so officers will be alerted if they access illegal images of abuse.

The software, first used in schools to prevent children accessing inappropriate websites, is the latest tool to be used to stop re-offending and protect the public.

Police generally do not want child porn paedophiles to have access to the internet – but convicts can appeal to use it for work or running a business. This is when the filters would be fitted.

The use of the tactic was revealed as a new report today showed there are 290 registered sex offenders being monitored by the force and other agencies in the community in Cumbria.

The document also reveals how none of these sex offenders went on to commit a further serious offence in the last year.

Police chiefs say this shows the measures put in place to monitor these criminals – as part of an alliance of public agencies known as MAPPA – are working.

“That is ultimately the test of how serious MAPPA is,” said Detective Superintendent Andy Slattery.

“It shows the lengths to which we go to manage these individuals.

“Sex offenders are a fact of life. There will always be sex offenders and violent offenders. But we understand the threats and we are managing them in the community to make sure they don’t offend.”

Det Supt Slattery, who leads Cumbria police’s public protection squad of more than 60 officers and staff, added: “We have individuals who are not allowed to access the internet other than through a secure filter. There is licensed software that we have applied to their computers.

“We fit the software to the computer. It alerts officers to any inappropriate use of the computer.”

A shake-up of the monitoring of the county’s most dangerous sex and violent offenders in recent years has led to surprise spot checks being combined with covert surveillance of those suspected of returning to the ways that led to crime.

Today’s report, covering the last financial year, shows that two sex offenders were sent back to jail for breaching orders designed to stop them re-offending.

Orders can include conditions such as not going near a school.

MAPPA – which stands for Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangement, a set-up run by police, probation and prison services – is also monitoring 49 violent offenders and two others classed only as “dangerous offenders”. Ten convicts out of the overall number being monitored were returned to custody for breaching their conditions for being released from jail on licence.

Det Supt Slattery added: “What this demonstrates is we use these orders and licences as a tool to monitor their behaviour.

“If we find them in breach we get them back to prison.

“The whole purpose of MAPPA is to prevent people offending. If we believe they pose a risk we will throw everything at them.”

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