Chatlines to talk to sexy girls and text them
But despite often having no criminal record, they pose every bit as serious a threat to our children as the more readily identifiable 'dirty old men' of the past.'In the past couple of years we've arrested magistrates, lawyers, company directors, police officers, people in the media,' DCI Stevens tells me.That's what happened when Andrew Lintern logged onto an internet chatroom pretending to be a nine-year-old girl and began a conversation with 'Jessie', whom he believed was a 13-year old-girl.Only, just as the nine-year-old girl wasn't who she said she was, nor was Jessie.Since 2005, it's been using officers posing as young girls in internet chatrooms and on social networking sites to draw these paedophiles out into the open.The idea is not to entrap them (which would be against the law), but simply to communicate with them long enough for them to break the law, either by engaging in sexual grooming, sending indecent images to a minor or by encouraging them to commit an indecent act.
Barely a decade ago, we thought it was bad enough that there were a few thousand of these images being passed around paedophile rings. It's become not just a worldwide problem, but a worldwide business, too, with organised crime gangs increasingly keen to muscle in on the lucrative trade for this truly disgusting material.Often married and with children themselves, they can be well-educated and highly successful in their field.Passing them in the street - and it could easily be street - you wouldn't give them a second glance.No, the sickening truth is that he's pretending to be a 13-year-old girl and he's in one of those internet chatrooms so beloved of our teenagers. The man, of course, is a paedophile; one of the most feared and loathed figures in today's society. well, she could be my daughter, your daughter or anyone's daughter.Using modern text-speak to pass muster as a teenager, he taps out an innocent-sounding question, the sort one teenage girl might ask another. ' 'No,' replies the very real 12-year-old, giggling as she types. But the girl, sitting at her computer in the comfort and supposed safety of her own bedroom. As a father, I know it's important not to oversex-state the danger our girls are in but, as a former policeman and professional child protection consultant, I also know the paedophile threat is out there.