Lancashire

Researchers launch mobile device 'to spot paedophiles'

A mobile phone application which claims to identify adults posing as children is to be released.

The team behind Child Defence says the app can analyse language to generate an age profile, identifying potential paedophiles.

Isis Forensics developed the tool after parental concerns over children accessing sites on their mobiles.

But child protection experts warned against such technology lulling people into thinking they are safe.

Child Defence project leader James Walkerdine, based at Lancaster University, said: "This software improves children's chances of working out that something isn't right.

"Parents told us they would much prefer to see software solutions that empowered and educated their children to help them protect themselves."

Child campaigning charity NSPCC hopes the application will encourage children to report the crime - but warned of complacency.

Chris Cloke, head of child protection said: "It can lull us into thinking that the child is safe and therefore we can move onto something else.

"I would certainly say that measures of this sort can be helpful but they need to be seen as one of the wider armoury we have for tackling child sexual abuse."

Developer James Walkerdine said the device helps children work out who is contacting them

This new advance comes just days after Barnardo's launched a stark warning to the government over the growing threat of child exploitation, when it released its latest figures on child exploitation.

In its report, Puppet on a String, the charity calls for the Secretary of State for Education to appoint a minister to take forward a national action plan against this crime against children.

Figures suggest about 1,500 children were groomed on the net last year.

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