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Law to Snare Net Sex Pests

Pedophiles using internet chatrooms to prey on children would be targeted under a new law being investigated by the Attorney- General's Department.
"Anti-grooming" laws would provide police - posing online as children - with greater powers to prosecute predators for contacting them with the intention of committing a sexual crime against a child.
The law was introduced in Queensland in February and has already lead to the sentencing of a 26-year- old man who tried to procure a 13-year-old girl for sex using a chatroom.
Child protection expert Professor Freda Briggs said the law - also being developed in WA - was long overdue in SA.
"It will mean that predators will be less likely to use the Internet if there is a risk of them being caught red- handed," she said.
She said most children who disclosed their age in chatrooms were sent pornography often as a way to groom them for future sexual encounters.
Under the proposal, police could operate "stings" online, responding to advances by pedophiles.
The Australian Institute or Criminology has thrown its support behind the law, saying it can stop pedophiles in their tracks.
In its Typology of Online Child Pornography Offending report, released in August, the institute warned "we do not know how prevalent grooming is".
"The greater long term value in any sting operation may lie in exploding the view that the Internet is an anonymous domain in which it is safe to offend," the report says.
SAPOL Electronic Crime Section Detective Senior Sergeant John Schrader said he supported any measures likely to help tackle predators online.

Sunday Mail (17-10-2004)
Chris Pippos

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