Gardai launch hunt for 1,000 web paedophiles
GARDAI are attempting to track down more than 1,000 people who accessed images of child sex abuse online in the space of just one month.
It will be a mammoth undertaking for the force's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit and follows on from revelations in an RTE 'Prime Time Investigates' programme.
However, just one member of the unit is qualified as a trainer on the computer software that allows for the identification of paedophiles who use file-sharing networks to spread abuse images.
Children's charities expressed their concern after it emerged that the software was used to identify more than 1,000 individual computers which had been used to file share images of child sex abuse in a 30-day period. File sharing was previously an anonymous transaction. However, experts say it can now be monitored using key search terms.
Children At Risk Ireland said the investigation had finally put paid to the myth that the crime of child sex abuse was limited to a small number of people.
It added that it had seen the long-term negative impact on children who had been abused and had that abuse filmed and then subsequently distributed.
Victims' recovery was "seriously delayed and compromised" by the knowledge that those images can never be deleted from the web, it said.
Dr Niall Muldoon, national clinical director with the group, called on the gardai to move to arrest all those who were identified sharing such images.
"Such action would, at long last, send a message of fear that you cannot get away with these crimes any longer," he added.
A gardai spokesperson last night said the force "acts on any information, intelligence or evidence which indicates criminal activity".
Meanwhile the ISPCC said legislation for monitoring child abuse online needs to be strengthened to keep it in line with the development of new technology.