Clarke wins backing for international paedophile database

Tens of thousands of paedophiles will be listed on an international database in a fresh worldwide drive to track down child abusers.

Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, will win backing today for the hi-tech project from leaders of the G8 nations. The move follows growing alarm that some of the most prolific paedophiles are travelling abroad to have sex with children, and national police forces are hampered in their efforts to catch them.

The computer system will bring together police records on paedophiles from Britain, the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Russia. Other countries are also likely to contribute to the database, which could be operational within six months.

The faces of adults convicted of child sex offences would be scanned and automatically added to the database, which could be accessed by police forces around the world.

Child pornography seized by police will also be electronically scanned into the database in an attempt to identify victims. Britain's records hold 800,000 images, enabling officers to identify 3,000 victims. Thesoftware could be powerful enough to identify whether a room or background scene had been used in two or more images of abuse.

The project will be discussed by justice and home affairs ministers from the G8 nations meeting in Sheffield today. They will also discuss counter-terrorism, tackling organised crime and tackling corruption in Africa.

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