Paedophile networks 'avoiding online detection by live-streaming abuse'


Paedophile gangs are avoiding detection online by live-streaming footage of children being abused, the head of a child-protection charity has warned. 

Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, will use a speech next week to say that predatory child abusers "exploit" the internet to operate internationally. 

Tactics used online to help prevent terrorism should be similarly employed against paedophile networks, Mr Wanless is expected to tell a conference in London.

Live-streaming allows offenders to share images of shocking abuse without leaving the same digital footprint left by pictures or videos posted online, making it harder to police. 

His stark warning comes after one of Britain's most prolific paedophiles, Richard Huckle, was handed 22 life sentences earlier this month for abusing hundreds of Malaysian children and spreading the images on the dark web.

Mr Wanless will say: "It has been positive to see high-profile arrests and prosecutions of paedophiles who exploit the online environment, trading in and downloading child abuse images.

"The recent case of Richard Huckle, who abused hundreds of children in Malaysia, shocked the nation. But tragically cases like this are not as rare as we might like.

"We are now seeing live streaming of child abuse, and gangs of committed pedophiles operating across borders.

"Of course, it is vital the police have the skills and resources necessary to tackle such horrific crimes. But how much better would it be if these crimes could be disrupted earlier."

Mr Wanless pointed to cases where terrorist bomb plots have been foiled by online police work as a blueprint for the campaign to prevent child abuse.

He added: "We know that when it comes to spotting and intercepting terrorist activity, wonderful work can be done to foil bomb plots ahead of an explosion.

"Is it fanciful to assume we could secure similar preventative attention to the behaviours of child abusers?"