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Javid hails online tool to combat child abuse

AN ANTI-GROOMING tool has been created by experts as part of home secretary Sajid Javid’s drive to tackle online child abuse.

A prototype that can be used to flag up conversations between children and potential groomers was developed at a ‘hackathon’ in the US last week.

Engineers from tech firms such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Snapchat and Twitter attended the two-day event which was hosted by the home secretary and Microsoft.

They analysed tens of thousands of online conversations to understand patterns used by predators. It led to the creation of the prototype tool which immediately identitifies suspicious exchanges so they can be investigated by a moderator.

Further work will be carried out on the prototype. Once completed it will be licensed free of charge to smaller and medium-sized technology companies worldwide.

Mr Javid said: ‘This is just one thing we can do together to combat this appalling crime.

‘We all have a responsibility to tackle online child sexual exploitation and the new tool developed during the hackathon is a positive step forward.’ The home secretary went to the US to hold a series of summits with tech giants where he pressed them to do more to tackle the issue and remove abusive content from their sites.

In an interview with Metro, Mr Javid said he was ‘astonished by the scale of abuse’ after learning on a visit to the National Crime Agency that there are ‘80,000 paedophiles online in Britain’.

Referrals of child abuse images to the NCA have surged by 700 per cent in the last five years.

Figures suggest police in England and Wales record on average 25 online child sexual offences every day.

He said: ‘Since last year’s terror attacks, tech companies have upped their game. Why can’t we use the same tools for something else?’