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Title: Policing online child sexual abuse : a case study of the London Metropolitan Police
Author: Martellozzo, Elena
ISNI:       0000 0004 2679 1816
Awarding Body: Kingston University
Current Institution: Kingston University
Date of Award: 2010
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This study seeks to understand and explain the problem of online child sexual abuse (CSA). More specifically, it presents a theoretical and empirical investigation of the current tactics and operational procedures employed by the London Metropolitan Police High Technological Crime Unit (HTCU) and Paedophile Unit, and it explores patterns and characteristics of online grooming. The thesis is divided into two parts. Part One is concerned with theoretical, empirical and legislative context. It critically reviews the existing literature on online CSA and assesses the operational challenges to policing this high profile social problem. Part Two uses this framework to explore the methods and practices used by suspected sex offenders to groom children online, and the covert and overt procedures used by the police to tackle online CSA. The approach is ethnographic in nature, since this is the only way in which the complex dynamics that shape the perpetration and policing of online eSA can be explored in sufficient depth. Other methods such as participant observation, in depth interviews and narrative and case analysis of sex offenders were also utilised. Key findings highlight that whilst there is no such. thing as a typical online child groomer, it is nevertheless both possible and instructive to identify a range of distinctive child grooming behaviours. The research explores a spectrum of grooming behaviours from online fantasists who groom for immediate sexual gratification in the virtual world, to persistent predators who groom online to lay the foundations for CSA in the physical world. This study shows that sex offenders can anonymously and simultaneously target a number of victims in a short period of time without taking into account the risk of being monitored by the police. Findings also emphasize that the police must prioritise in order to allocate their limited resources to dealing with those online groomers who are perceived to pose the greatest risk in the physical world. Informed prioritisation is a process that requires undercover officers entering the world of the online groomers and interacting over time to develop an understanding of their intentions. This research explores the complex, multi-faceted and at times counterintuitive relationships between online grooming behaviours, risk assessment, police practices, and the actual danger of subsequent abuse in the physical world. The ultimate aim is to generate a deeper knowledge and understanding of the under researched and sensitive area of online CSA, with direct relevance to policy and practice. This research makes an original contribution to theory, methods and epistemology.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Social work and social policy and administration ; Sociology