Bob McLachlan, head of Scotland Yard's Paedophile Unit

The head of Scotland Yard's Paedophile Unit and President of the Interpol Specialised Group on Crimes Against Children, Bob McLachlan, said yesterday that in the UK “we've lifted the stone off crimes against children, now we're working on finding out exactly what's underneath.” McLachlan and Robin Cooper, Principal of the Criminal Enforcement Policy Group for HM Customs and Excise, are currently in Palma attending the 17th meeting of the Interpol group and McLachlan said that the mere fact that Spain is hosting the bi-annual meeting shows great willing on behalf of the Spanish to help confront the domestic and global crimes against children. The reason for the Customs and Excise's involvement is that there is a far greater level of co-operation between all the law enforcement agencies in the UK in this particular field. Cooper explained that whereas before “seized” material was taken away and incinerated or discarded, child pornography or potentially indictable material is now handed over to his department for close examination in a bid to find out who is involved, where the material is coming from and ultimately, who the victim is and where the child is being abused - and that is where the Scotland Yard unit comes in. Cooper said that the approach is proving successful with over 30 cases a year resulting with people being placed on the sex offenders register. But while the British security forces are working closer together Cooper and McLachlan said that the principal reason for the bi-annual meeting is to encourage a much greater level of international co-operation. McLachlan explained that at one extreme, the Internet has brought much of the material and the offenders to the forefront because the material and activities are far more apparent on the net as before, when child pornography was carried out in a more clandestine manner. At the other extreme, the Internet, which also enables police to have a more objective idea of how much material there is, also creates a “virtual” policing environment. “But the reality is that somewhere a child is being abused and that is what we are concerned with,” he said. McLachlan does not agree that Internet has encouraged or fuelled child pornography, “it's only technology catching up the well established traits of sex offenders.” However, McLachlan did admit that the Internet has made it easier for sex offenders to gather material “but you're only so many steps behind them and they're more and more frequently being caught out.”


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