Instruct Police to work with and not against Child Protection Teams.

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In UK we have an huge problem with online grooming.  Our children deserve to be safe and not subjected to this when they are using the internet.  No matter how closely a parent monitors their children's activities, it is still happening.

Our Police are underfunded and undermanned and are not being effective in stopping online grooming,  In fact the Justice Department and Police Chiefs seem to be completely unaware of how massive this is and how many thousands of innocent boys and girls are being targeted as soon as they go online.  This is understandable with the austerity measures, but it is completely unacceptable.

Unsurprisingly there are some people across the UK who have taken the matter into their own hands.  Some are survivors of sexual abuse themselves and some have children who have fallen victim to online grooming and sexual abuse.  Their common purpose is to set up a decoy account on various chat sites, posing as a child.  They then sit and wait.  Recently one of the people from a group called Parental Online Protection showed on Facebook how he set up an account and within 15 minutes had already received in excess of 25 contacts, many were sexual straight away.  The people sending the messages all thought it was a 13 year old child.  The decoy will never approach someone online first, they will always behave in a manner suited to the age of the child they are pretending to be and they never instigate any sexual talk or arrangements to meet.  They state within the first few messages that they are a child of whatever age the account is set up for.  What then follows is absolute filth most of the time.  Pornographic photos and sexual chat is sent to the decoy and, many times the online predator tries to arrange a meet.  The group then turn up at the meet and confront the predator with all the evidence.  The entire operation is filmed until the Police arrive. The Police are called straight away and the group hold the predator until the Police arrive.  Occasionally a citizen's arrest is necessary and the groups use section 24a of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 but most of the time, because the groups are calm and polite when dealing with the predator this is not necessary.  When the Police arrive, the team hand over an evidence folder which contains all the chat logs and evidence obtained and they do an MG11.  In the main, the police are very pleased with the work the teams have done and in the past 3 years the teams across the UK have secured over 2000 convictions.  

So why are Police Chiefs telling their force to stop working with the teams and even to arrest them?  Why is Jim Gamble (former head of CEOP) going onto national television and trying to portray the teams as vigilantes?  They are not vigilantes, they do not take the law into their own hands, they do not attack the predator and they work within the law of the land.   They collect enough evidence to secure a conviction, approach and retain the perpetrator and hand everything to the police.  This was announced on the news and in national newspapers.  This is taken from the Daily Telegraph National police chiefs have ordered local forces to crackdown hard on vigilante groups who track down suspected paedophiles.  The guidance tells officers not only not to work with groups who are trying to catch potential child predators - but to pursue them with the full force of the law.

The officers who deal with the teams work very well with them.  They are thanked, told to keep up the good work, praised for their professionalism.  Many of the teams have had meetings with their local CID to get guidance on the best way to work.  

I do realise there are some people who think they can copy the dedicated teams and they cause problems, such as the incident in East Hull recently.  However we cannot tar all groups with the same brush.  There are about 40 groups across the UK that are totally dedicated, professional and organised.  And we NEED them to be able to continue their excellent work.

I suggest it would be a good idea to get local forces to work with these groups and appreciate the work they do rather than trying to shut them down.  Our children are NOT being kept safe by the Police, this is sad but a true fact.  

We, the undersigned, being concerned about the safety of minors online and wanting to stamp out the online grooming epidemic we are currently facing, demand that the Ministry of Justice reverse the orders given by Police Chiefs.  Issue regulations if necessary, but do not stop these people.  Recognise the valuable work they do, perfectly legally, trying to keep our children safe when they are online.



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