5.1 The Internet and the Abuse of Children
1. The Internet
As technology develops, the Internet and its range of content services can be accessed through various devices including mobile phones, text messaging and mobile camera phones as well as computers and game consoles. As a consequence the Internet has become a significant tool in the distribution of indecent/pseudo photographs and video clips of children and young people.
Internet chat rooms, discussion forums, gaming sites and bulletin boards are used as a means of contacting children with a view to grooming them for inappropriate or abusive relationships, which may include requests to make and transmit child abuse images of themselves or to perform sexual acts live in front of a web cam.
Contacts made initially in a chat room are likely to be carried on via email, instant messaging services, mobile phone and text messaging. There is also a growing cause for concern about the exposure of children to inappropriate material via interactive communication technology e.g. adult abusive images and extreme forms of obscene material.
2. Child Abuse and the Adult
There is some evidence that people found in possession of indecent photographs/pseudo photographs or films/videos of children are likely to be involved directly in child abuse themselves. When someone is discovered to have placed or accessed such material on the Internet, the Police should normally consider the potential likelihood that the individual is involved in the active abuse of children.
In particular, the individual's access to children should be established within the family, within employment contexts and in other settings such as voluntary work with children or other positions of trust. See also Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers Procedure.
It should be borne in mind that any indecent, obscene image involving a child has, by its very nature, involved a person, who in creating that image has been party to abusing that child.
3. Referral and Strategy Discussion
Where there is suspected or actual evidence of anyone accessing or creating indecent images of children, this must be referred to the Police and Surrey Children's Services under the Contacts and Referrals Procedure.
Where there are concerns about a child being groomed, exposed to child abuse images or contacted by someone inappropriately, via the Internet or other ICT tools like a mobile phone, referrals should be made to the Police and to Surrey Children's Services.
Due to the nature of this type of abuse and the possibility of the destruction of evidence, the referrer should first discuss their concerns with the Police and Surrey Children's Services before raising the matter with the family. This will enable a decision to be made about informing the family and ensuring that the child's welfare is safeguarded.
All such reports should be taken seriously. Most referrals will be followed by an Assessment and information should be shared between the Police and Surrey Children's Services in order to determine whether a Strategy Discussion should take place