Child Protection Software to be Deployed by Police Scotland
Following a successful pilot scheme in England, Police Scotland will deploy pioneering new technology to monitor the online activity of convicted child sex offenders.
Police Scotland is to track the computer activity of child sex offenders using a pioneering new technology that monitors their online movements 24 hours-a-day. Through the technology, which is being rolled out following a pilot scheme, police will be able to monitor what websites they visit and also be alerted if words linked to child sex abuse are typed into the users web browser.
The technology ‘tags’ computers with a specialist software, and will be used to manage up to 19 of the nation’s most notorious Repeat Sex Offenders (RSOs). The police service was granted powers to monitor 37 registered sex offenders using the new software, however the number is expected to grow.
Some are said to be out of jail and on licence, while others are subject to Sexual Offences Prevention Orders – courts can impose these orders to restrict the activities of individuals who pose a risk to the public.
Following successful trials in England, Police Scotland will be able to intensely monitor some of Scotland’s worst RSOs, and the technology deployed is among some of the most pioneering technology-based police methods anywhere on earth.
The software is developed by a Dorset-based company, Future Digital, and costs only £40 to fit to a computer. Once fitted, the software then allows specialist police officers to keep tabs on child sex offenders’ online lives. Police will be able to observe every word typed into the keyboard and, if an incriminating web search is carried out, the software takes a photo of the screen to store it as evidence. Police services are also alerted as part of this process.
According to the Future Digital website, the Future Digital Offender Management Software processes quietly in the background while the user accesses their computer. The website states: “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.”
In addition to intense monitoring, the police also have accessed to the offenders internet history. Officers can check up on the online search activities of the offender by accessing an online portal run by Future Digital, providing greater insight into their online activity.
Evolving Criminal Behaviour
As the world becomes increasingly digitised, so too does crime in all forms. As with the rise of fraud and theft, child sex offenders are turning to the internet to carry out criminal offences and operations. In fact, the number of online sex offences has soared in recent years. To ensure that criminal activity is monitored and prevented police services around the world are turning to innovative new technologies such as that provided by Future Digital to ensure public safety.
Speaking to the Sunday Post, 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.”