Every web­site, every key stroke: Po­lice will track 19 most dan­ger­ous child sex of­fend­ers on in­ter­net

Tech­nol­ogy to trail pae­dophiles on the web

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - NEWS - By Tim Knowles TKNOWLES@SUNDAYPOST.COM

Nine­teen of Scot­land’s most dan­ger­ous pae­dophiles are be­ing mon­i­tored us­ing new com­puter tech­nol­ogy.

Com­put­ers used by sex of­fend­ers con­victed of down­load­ing images of child sex abuse have been tagged with spe­cial­ist soft­ware that mon­i­tors their on­line move­ments 24 hours a day.

Po­lice can keep tabs on what web­sites they visit and get alerts if words linked to sex abuse are tapped in.

Fol­low­ing a pi­lot scheme, the track­ers have been rolled out across the coun­try and are be­ing used to man­age 19 of the na­tion’s most com­pul­sive in­ter­net of­fend­ers.

Among them is se­rial pae­dophile Don­ald McKen­zie from Perth who’s also banned from be­ing alone with a child un­til 2034.

Po­lice Scot­land brought him back to court in March to win an or­der al­low­ing the force to fit the soft­ware to his com­put­ers.

The force has also been granted pow­ers to mon­i­tor a fur­ther 18 reg­is­tered sex of­fend­ers ( RSOs) and are just wait­ing for them to ei­ther come out of jail or get con­nected to the web again.

The soft­ware is be­ing rolled out across Scot­land fol­low­ing suc­cess­ful tri­als in Eng­land and a pi­lot project north of the bor­der.

It costs only £40 to fit the soft­ware to a com­puter but it then al­lows spe­cial­ist of­fi­cers to spy on sex of­fend­ers’ lives on­line.

Their every tap of the key­board is mon­i­tored and if a tell-tale word or phrase is spelled out, the soft­ware alerts po­lice and takes a photo of the screen, stor­ing it as ev­i­dence.

An in­ter­net his­tory is also kept ready for in­spec­tion, which of­fi­cers can check by log­ging on to a por­tal run by Fu­ture Dig­i­tal, the Dorset­based com­pany be­hind the in­no­va­tion.

Its brochure boasts: “The data cap­ture process is en­tirely silent and so the user is un­aware of ex­actly which ac­tiv­ity re­sults in cap­ture and also can­not try to sub­vert it.”

Po­lice Scot­land has won pow­ers to mon­i­tor 37 RSOs us­ing the soft­ware though the num­ber is set to grow.

Some of them are out of jail on li­cence while oth­ers are sub­ject to Sex­ual Of­fences Pre­ven­tion Or­ders ( SOPOs), which courts grant to re­strict the ac­tions of peo­ple who pose a raised risk.

De­tec­tive Su­per­in­ten­dent Gail John­ston said: “As tech­nol­ogy moves for­ward and life­styles change, this has an im­pact on the type of sex­ual of­fend­ing oc­cur­ring with more RSOs be­ing con­victed of in­ter­net- re­lated of­fences.

“The use of re­mote mon­i­tor­ing soft­ware as­sists in the man­age­ment of these types of of­fend­ers as it al­lows of­fi­cers to mon­i­tor their on­line ac­tiv­ity more ef­fec­tively and ef­fi­ciently and al­lows for early in­ter­ven­tion when changes in be­hav­iour are iden­ti­fied.”

No Scots of­fend­ers have yet been pros­e­cuted as a re­sult of a tip-off – though po­lice see this as a mark of the tech­nol­ogy’s ef­fec­tive­ness.

Of­fi­cers and so­cial work­ers are now mon­i­tor­ing 4,089 RSOs in the com­mu­nity while an­other 1,332 are be­hind bars.

Num­bers have soared, partly be­cause tech­nol­ogy has trig­gered a boom in on­line sex of­fences. More than half of child porn con­victs – 55% – have com­mit­ted a con­tact of­fence too.

Pae­dophile McKen­zie was jailed for seven years in 1999 for sex­ual as­sault and lewd and li­bidi­nous be­hav­iour but po­lice raided his Perth flat in 2009 and dis­cov­ered images of child sex abuse on his com­puter.

He was hit with a 25- year SOPO re­strict­ing his use of com­put­ers but jailed again in 2016 af­ter of­fi­cers found more images on his lap­top.

Don’t even think about it – soft­ware means po­lice get alerts when words linked to sex abuse are tapped in

Don­ald McKen­zie

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