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Policing Online Child Sexual Abuse: Understanding Grooming in the 21 st Century Dr Elena Martellozzo.

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Presentation on theme: "Policing Online Child Sexual Abuse: Understanding Grooming in the 21 st Century Dr Elena Martellozzo."— Presentation transcript:

1 Policing Online Child Sexual Abuse: Understanding Grooming in the 21 st Century Dr Elena Martellozzo

2 Defining online grooming Type of on-line behaviour designed to ‘seduce’ or lure children into sexual behaviour or conversations with or without children’s knowledge (McCarthy and Gaunt,2005) Process of on-line socialisation during which an offender interacts with a child in order to prepare him/her for sexual abuse (Davidson and Martellozzo, 2008)

3 Chat Facilities & Sites for 6-14 year olds (Taylor, 2009)

4 The Metropolitan Police HTCU: Policing Online Abuse Ethnographic 4 year research 1 Detective Undercover Yahoo Groups and other Social Networks –Hi5- My Space- Ringo- Multiply- Green Room- Bebo- Facebook- Twitter Lucy: 13- profile Picture on line Approx 2000 individuals were interested in her profile 27 arrests in 12 months

5 Results More than 450 male adults initiate contact with LUCY 80 maintained a relationship for a long time 25 commit offences contrary to Sections Sexual Offences Act men travelled to central London to meet Lucy

6 Hyper- confident Hyper- cautious Suspicious A spectrum of confidence from most confident to hyper-cautious

7 Examples of text from covert operation (Taylor, 2009) 12 year old girl hi lucy here fmlv_uk38 hi how are you sweetie? 12 year old girl kwl fmlv_uk38 I used to play hockey in my younger days by the way 12 year old girl how old r u now 12 year old girl yeh fmlv_uk38 lol. not too old I hope. good at sex anyway lol 12 year old girl i dont play now fmlv_uk38 discovered boys and sex huh? 12 year old girl aint dun sex yet fmlv_uk38 interested though 12 year old girl corse fmlv_uk38 I'd love to be your first 12 year old girl yeh rite fmlv_uk38 lol 12 year old girl im only 12 fmlv_uk38 I would though - I'm good at it. did you read my hi5 profile? fmlv_uk38 doesn't matter to me - if you want to that's all that counts 12 year old girl hav anothr look in mo 12 year old girl where r u im in London fmlv_uk38 south london 12 year old girl serious fmlv_uk38 of course. I don't lie hun. and if you wanted to visit I'd love that

8 Research Different phases before reaching the sexual phase: ◦ Friendship-forming phase ◦ Relationship-forming phase ◦ Risk assessment phase ◦ Exclusivity phase ◦ Sexual phase (Source: O'Connell, 2003:44 )

9 Findings In less than three minutes the suspect moves directly to the sexual phase “[have you] discovered boys and sex huh” and “I'd love to be your first [lover]”. In some cases not much time invested to form a relationship with a child In OPM it takes approximately 8 minutes for a sexual topic to be introduced No risk assessment “if you wanted to visit I'd love that”

10 Offenders’ Modus Operandi Half of subjects used texting to further groom the victim Majority sent CII some type of pornography or child abuse imagery Two thirds of subjects exposed themselves to the CII via photograph or web-cam Two third turned up expecting to meet 12 year old girl whilst others arranged but cancelled Several claimed fantasy or that they knew they were talking to an adult

11 Chatting to a child? “I believed it was another bloke role playing sexual fantasy of some sort, and in moments of boredom I would go along with it” (SO.7) “I never genuinely believed that the person was a child and certainly had no intent of any sort as regards to committing any of these offences” (SO.2) “I didn’t believe from day 1, I genuinely didn’t believe that, that was a 14, 12, 13, 15 year old child” (SO.4)

12 Offenders Characterises Majority of groomers were White males aged 36 to 45 Majority have own children who did not disclose abuse Half were married or in long-term relationships Most had no previous criminal convictions Vast majority had child abuse imagery on their computer or on person when arrested Half were in possession of Level 5 images

13 Social Networking Sites & Offending Social networks have fewer barriers for paedophiles Easy to hide real ID Offenders remove possible victims to other sites (instant messenger) ◦ SNS used to Identify and meet Victims ◦ Instant Messenger used for Chat and Grooming

14 Conclusions Sex offenders use Internet to access indecent images and to groom children It is not possible to identify different ‘types’ of internet offender Groomed child victims often Do Not Report Abuse Online Reporting is necessary but not always effective (Taylor, 2009; Davidson & Martellozzo, 2010) Proactive Method of Policing is the only way forward (Taylor, 2009; Martellozzo, 2010)


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