PAEDOPHILES are to be treated in the same way as terrorists under a crackdown on child abuse to be unveiled in the Queen’s speech.
Sexual predators who download manuals on how to groom their victims will face the same sanctions as terrorists who download guides to bomb-making.
While it is an offence to possess indecent images of child abuse, a legal loophole means there are no sanctions for possessing manuals that provide advice to paedophiles on how to identify and win over victims and evade capture.
Other measures in the Queen’s speech on June 4 will include:
— A serious crime bill, modelled on America’s anti-mafia laws, that will enable prosecutors to jail for up to five years lawyers, accountants and other professionals who help crime lords
— A crackdown on zero hours contracts. The coalition will match Labour’s pledge to scrap exclusivity clauses, where firms bind some workers to zero hours deals and do not let them work elsewhere
— A bill to help small businesses secure faster payments from large firms
— And an infrastructure bill that will amend the trespass laws to allow fracking firms to run shale gas pipelines under private land, as revealed by The Sunday Times last month.
David Cameron decided to take action on paedophile manuals after GCHQ and the National Crime Agency (NCA) found online examples in the “dark web” during their investigations into child abuse.
The prime minister told The Sunday Times: “It’s completely unacceptable that there’s a loophole in the law which allows paedophiles to write and distribute these disgusting documents. I want to ensure we do everything we can to protect children — and that’s why I’m making them illegal.”
The new paedophile law will be in force by the time of the general election next year. It could take the form of an amendment to the Obscene Publications Act 1959 so paedophiles who possess training manuals would be prosecuted. The Terrorism Act 2000 outlaws terrorist training manuals.
Details of the crackdown come days after it emerged that a paedophile teacher drugged and molested up to 60 boys as young as 10 at a British private school after four decades spent abusing children at other schools around the world.
William Vahey, who taught history and geography at Southbank International School in London between 2009 and 2013, killed himself last month as FBI investigators began to uncover his crimes.
Paedophiles have for years shared guides on abuse but the internet has meant they are now more easily distributed among abusers.
In June last year, Andrew Bruce, a hi-fi shop owner in Leicester, downloaded a 170-page manual called Safe and Fun Sex with Children.
He was jailed for eight months after admitting 10 counts of making indecent images of children.
The judge, Michael Pert QC, described the manual as “a step-by-step guide to having unlawful sex and recommends targeting single parents”.
One guide obtained by an American television channel outlined dialogue an adult could have with children to gain their trust. “Getting yourself an animal should be the very first thing to consider if you are serious about finding a child love candidate,” states the guide. “Animals are what we like to call child magnets.”
Last May Evan Harries, 44, who is originally from Wales but lives in Ireland, was found with a 99-page guide to paedophilia after his home in Wexford was raided. The manual was entitled How to Befriend and Form a Sexual Relationship with a Child.
Harries had 7,500 images of child abuse on his computers and was sentenced to four years in prison.
In February 2002, Julian Levine, then 54, a paedophile from London, was jailed after hoarding 42,000 pictures of abuse. A guide written by Levine described being a paedophile as a “hobby” and was entitled The Hobby Dos and Don’ts.
It suggested approaches that could be used to engage children, activities that would involve meeting children and tips on approaching children in the street.
Amazon faced outrage four years ago when it was discovered that a manual called The Paedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child Lover’s Code of Conduct was being sold on its site. It withdrew the book after a threatened boycott by customers.
But most of the material to be targeted by the new law is hidden in the dark web, which cannot be accessed through conventional internet searches.
The NCA estimates that 20,000 people in Britain will soon be using the dark web. In order to access the sites paedophiles first download special software — and when they access the sites, the technology gives them anonymity.
Britain and America set up a joint taskforce last year to tackle online threats to children. It brings together experts from the FBI and the NCA and senior government sources say GCHQ is also involved.
A former Google and Facebook executive, Joanna Shields, is leading a group of industry experts to produce technological solutions to the threat. She is hosting an event in London next month to tackle the dark net and combat live video streaming of child abuse.
The crackdown on paedophile manuals follows a summit in Downing Street last November at which Cameron won agreement from internet firms to stop people seeing child abuse images and videos when they input paedophile search terms. On Google alone, child abuse search results are blocked against 100,000 search terms worldwide.
The NCA will run a key test of search engine results next month to check that child abuse results continue to be blocked.
The Sunday Times 27/04/14