Dreamcatchers For Abused Children
30
September , 2016
Friday


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Facebook was accused last night of putting children at risk by snubbing the official paedophile ‘panic button’.

Both the Home Secretary and the mother of murdered schoolgirl Ashleigh Hall condemned the website for refusing to implement the system.

Alan Johnson said he could not see ‘any good reason’ why – unlike other social networking sites – Facebook will not sign up to it.

Ashleigh Hall
Peter Chapman

Murdered: Ashleigh Hall, 17, was befriended by Peter Chapman on the Facebook social networking site. She was raped and murdered before her body was dumped next to a farmer’s field

And 17-year-old Ashleigh’s mother Andrea Hall said sites such as Facebook, which has five million British teenage users, ‘can never do too much’ to protect the vulnerable.

The panic button allows children who fear they are being targeted by an online paedophile to receive expert advice at the click of a button – and, crucially, their complaints can then be investigated by the police.

Last night it also emerged that human rights laws are stopping the Government from implementing powers to force sex offenders to disclose their online identities.

The developments came after revelations of how Ashleigh was killed and dumped in a ditch by serial rapist Peter Chapman – who was supposedly under police supervision.

The panic button as seen on other sites
Safety net: The panic button as seen on other sites

The pair met on Facebook, where Chapman had posed as a handsome, bare-chested young boy to lure Ashleigh into his trap.

Yesterday, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, which set up the panic button, revealed there were 115 cases last year where children believed they were being groomed on Facebook.

But because Facebook has no link to the CEOP panic button, frightened children wanting to contact the body – which is run by police officers – are forced to leave the site.

They must log on to another site which does have the button, and fill in a form explaining they fear they have been targeted by a paedophile on Facebook.

CEOP’s then staff assess the risk they are under and can call in police to investigate.

The number of arrests attributed to CEOP work last year was 267.

The body’s chief executive, Jim Gamble, said Facebook’s refusal to implement the panic button was ‘just not good enough’.

Facebook claims it has its own warning system, and that including the ‘ClickCEOP’ panic button as well would become confusing. It says its staff would alert the police if a child complained of being groomed.

Andrea Hall mother of Ashleigh Hall, 17, who was found murdered in a farmer's field near Sedgefield, arrives at Teesside Crown Court
Home Secretary Alan Johnson

Condemnation: Ashleigh’s mother Andrea Hall, left, and Home Secretary Alan Johnson have both attacked Facebook for refusing to implement the paedophile ‘panic button’

However, the company will not disclose how many times the authorities have been notified.
Mr Gamble said Facebook’s argument did not ‘hold water’.

He was supported by the Home Secretary, who urged Facebook to agree at once to join the scheme.

Mr Johnson told the Mail: ‘ Hundreds of websites are already signed up to CEOP’s report abuse button that enables young people to seek help if they think they are in danger online.

‘I don’t see any good reason why major sites wouldn’t want to offer the same option to help protect younger users.

Alter-ego: Chapman used a picture of a good-looking teenager to entice his victim

‘That is why I want Facebook and other providers of sites who haven’t signed up yet to do so.’

Liberal Democrat spokesman Chris Huhne said: ‘Until Facebook acts on this, its protestations that it cares passionately about the safety of people who use its site will look like empty words.

‘Facebook urgently needs to take this clear, simple and practical step.’

Ashleigh’s mother Mrs Hall, 39, said: ‘Anything that can be done should be done to stop these monsters. Perhaps you will never stop people creating false profiles and posting bogus pictures but every little helps.

‘No stone should be left unturned. I just can’t see any reason why Facebook haven’t installed this panic button.

‘It acts as a deterrent because predators feel that other users are watching them. It also gives those people who feel threatened, particularly vulnerable young children, an easy way of reporting it.

‘Social networking sites have a responsibility. They can never do too much to protect their users.’

Mrs Hall also branded Chapman, who was jailed for at least 35 years on Monday, ‘inhuman’ and said the authorities should reveal where sex offenders live.

She said: ‘He took my daughter. He shouldn’t be allowed human rights; he’s not human, is he?

‘He murdered my daughter. She was 17 and he knew exactly what he was doing and there was no remorse whatsoever.’

But last night it emerged a law passed by the Government to force registered sex offenders to disclose their email address had been scuppered by the Human Rights Act.

Two sex offenders, including a child rapist, have protested to the courts that it is unfair there is no right to be removed from the register if they no longer pose a risk.

Enlarge   Ashleigh's body was discovered in a field near Sedgefield, County Durham

Grim discovery: Ashleigh’s body was found in a field near Sedgefield, County Durham

Enlarge   Peter Chapman

Fatal journey: The Ford Mondeo car used by Peter Chapman in the rape and murder of the 17-year-old

The case has dragged on for two years – with the sex offenders winning at the High Court – and is currently before the Court of Appeal.

Until it is settled, the law remains on hold and paedophiles can keep their online identities secret.

Pressure was mounting yesterday on Merseyside Police – who were supposedly monitoring Chapman, 33, and now face an official investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Chapman was on the sex offenders’ register, but police had not known his whereabouts for ten months when Ashleigh died.

A vital defense against the predators

The panic button is available for children who fear they are being targeted by an online paedophile.

The button is prominently displayed on sites that have signed up to the scheme.

These include the social networking site Bebo, the online chat service MSN Messenger, and hundreds of others.

Youngsters who feel threatened can click on the button, which was launched in 2006, at any time.

Lee Costi
Peter Chapman

Chatroom perverts: Lee Costi, left, was jailed for grooming a young girl online after being caught out by a ‘panic button’. But there was no such option for Ashleigh Hall when she met Peter Chapman, right, on Facebook

This takes them to the website of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

There, frightened users can receive expert advice from organisations including the Internet Watch Foundation, Childline, Beatbullying and GetSafeOnline.

Children can also use the link to make reports to CEOP’s specialist police teams – a crucial avenue for the young who may shy away of calling the police directly.

These complaints can be assessed and if necessary the police can then investigate.

The first pervert to be caught by the CEOP button was student Lee Costi, 23, from Haslemere in Hampshire.

He was jailed for nine years in June 2003 for grooming a young girl online.

Bogus: He called himself djpete and claimed he was a young muscular man

Costi had already groomed two young girls for sex after meeting them through chatrooms when he met the 14-year-old.

Nottingham Crown Court was told that he had incited the girl to perform sex acts for him to watch via webcams online.

Costi then arranged to meet the girl, from Nottingham, at the city’s railway station for sexual intercourse.

But two days before the meeting in February 2003 she got cold feet and told her mother, who used the panic button to alert police.

Costi was then arrested at his home and was later jailed. Facebook has not adopted the CEOP button.

Instead it encourages users to report anyone they suspect of being a paedophile via ‘report links’ on its web-site or through the contact form in its helpcentre.

A spokesman said: ‘This reporting infrastructure includes report links on pages across the Facebook site, systems to prioritise the most serious reports, and a trained team of reviewers who respond to reports and escalate them to law enforcement as needed.’

The spokesman added: ‘The safety of Facebook users is our top priority.

‘We have reporting buttons on every page of our site and continue to invest heavily in creating the most robust reporting system to support our 400 million users.

‘We work closely with police forces in the UK and around the world and have trained staff on two continents giving 24-hour support in 70 languages.’

My guilt at letting that evil man walk free

The victim: 'I felt responsible'
The victim: ‘I felt responsible’

By Paul Sims

A former prostitute who was held hostage by Facebook murderer Peter Chapman and repeatedly raped at knifepoint during a 15-hour ordeal spoke yesterday of her bitter regret at allowing him to walk free.

The woman, who wishes to stay anonymous, was a 26-year-old drug addict when she was picked up in Liverpool’s red light district by the serial sex attacker in 2003.

He took her to a squalid flat nearby where he raped her over and over again  –  threatening to kill her with a 12-inch knife if she refused to give in to his depraved demands.

Chapman, then 26, was already a high-risk sex offender. He was charged with kidnap and rape but when it came to a trial she could not bear to see his face again and the case collapsed.

In October last year the double

rapist, who was jailed for seven years in 1996 for attacking two other prostitutes, lured 17-year-old Ashleigh Hall to her death after ‘ meeting’ her on Facebook.

Chapman should have been monitored by the police but had been missing from his registered address in Liverpool for more than a year.

Yesterday, as Merseyside Police referred their supervision of Chapman to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, his earlier victim spoke of her regret at not being strong enough to face court. Had he been convicted it is likely he would still be in prison and Ashleigh still alive.

‘I wish I’d gone through with the trial,’ she told the Mail. ‘When the police told me what he’d done my initial feeling was guilt. I felt I was kind of responsible for a young kid losing her life. I didn’t deserve what happened to me, but at least I was an adult and I knew the dangers of what I was doing. She was a baby.’

The victim was prepared to give evidence against Chapman this time but at the start of his trial on Monday he dramatically changed his plea to guilty.

‘I did it’: CCTV footage of Peter Chapman at the Custody desk at Middlesbrough Police Station, when he confessed to the killing

‘I’d come to see it as closure,’ she said. ‘I wanted to stand up in the witness box and look him in the eyes. That way he’d know that I was the one in control now.

‘He’s a horrible, twisted, evil little man who should never be let out again.’

When Chapman picked her up, they agreed a £60 fee for sex.

He drove her to a nearby block of flats. Once inside the shabby apartment he told her to undress. When she demanded payment first he pulled out a knife.

‘He put silver-coloured duct tape

over my mouth and tied my hands together with some more. I was crying and begging him not to do it, but he was so much stronger and taller than me. I was only about six-and-a-half stone then and wafer-thin.’

Enlarge   Peter Chapman

Grubby interior: Inside the Ford Mondeo car used by Chapman in the killing of Ashleigh

Enlarge   Ashleigh Hall's coffin

Sad farewell: Ashleigh’s coffin is carried from St Cuthbert’s Church, Darlington, during her funeral

Within minutes he was raping her. Bizarrely, near the end of her ordeal he told her how sorry he was and that he had not meant to hurt her. He then raped her again.

Chapman forced his victim back into the car and dropped her off close to where he had picked her up.

Detectives were able to trace him from her description of the flat.

Chapman would later be downgraded from a high-risk sex offender to medium risk. He stayed in Liverpool and began a relationship with 25-year- old single mother Dyanne Littler.

Miss Littler, who has a son but not with Chapman, ended their relationship when she discovered he was on the sex offenders’ register.










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2 Responses

  1. Heart Monitor Watch – What Is Your Resting Heart? | Buffing Up Says:

    […] Facebook ‘putting children at risk’ by snubbing paedophile panic button | DreamCatchers … […]

    Posted on March 10th, 2010 at 1:28 pm

  2. Tenn. Woman Jailed Over Facebook ‘Poke’ | ConcerningFacebook.info Says:

    […] Facebook 'putting children at risk' by snubbing paedophile panic … […]

    Posted on March 13th, 2010 at 10:26 am

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