Online predators asking children for photos
Online predators are pushing children to post compromising pictures and to meet up within minutes of making contact, a top garda has revealed.
Detective Superintendent Declan Daly heads up the recently-formed Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) and he has revealed how his officers have witnessed an increase in children being targeted for naked pictures.
Det Supt Daly called on parents not to be naive and to educate both themselves and their children about online dangers.
"The internet has many fantastic uses but one of the downsides is that at any given time there are perpetrators who are looking to target our children sexually and exploit our children," he said.
The GNPSB was set up in 2015. It previously operated at the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (DVSAIU) in the National Bureau of Criminal Investigation (NBCI). However, Garda chiefs felt it was important to create an independent unit that dealt specifically with crimes of a sexual nature.
The unit is in constant contact with policing bodies across the globe, including the FBI.
Det Supt Daly said they have seen a "worrying increase" in self-taken child images ending up in the hands of predators.
"This is where a child takes an image of themselves, either partially clothed or fully naked, and posts that image online," he said. "The child then either knowingly or unknowingly gives that image to somebody, maybe emails that image to another child, or what they believe is another child, but ultimately that image makes its way onto the internet."
He said that conversations between predators and victims develop "within four or five questions".
"They seem to get down to the point very quickly. They ask name, age, sex, location and then it's into that sexualised chat very quickly," he said.
Gardaí use a number of tools to follow the footprint that leads to the criminals but Det Supt Daly said parents need to take control of the situation before it gets to that point.