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Computer software designed to catch illegal downloaders of child abuse has dangerous loophole, Canterbury court told

By Paul Hooper

Special computer software - used by police to track paedophiles' online activities - doesn't work on tablets or Smartphones, it has been revealed.

The loophole was spotted after a convicted Kennington surveyor was handed a Sexual Offences Prevention Order.

It meant that 39-year-old Damian Peters could only use devices which has the computer program installed.

Bradley's iPhone was stolen in the brazen mugging
Bradley's iPhone was stolen in the brazen mugging

But now a judge at Canterbury Crown Court has heard that it can’t be loaded onto certain devices, including iPads and iPhones.

Lawyers for Peters, of Meadowbank Road, argued successfully for the restriction to be lifted in light of the software difficulties.

Under SOPOs, police load the program onto computers, which ensures convicted sex offenders can’t delete images or erase traces of the sites they have accessed.

Peters is serving a three-year sentence after he was convicted for the second time of downloading illegal images.

He was told by Judge Simon James he had an “insatiable appetite” for viewing the vile images of sexual abuse.

In the first SOPO he was banned from owning a computer, but the devious pervert got around that restriction by tricking his wife into buying one.

Under the SOPO he was told he couldn’t have access to electronic devices unless the anti-paedophile program was installed.

But his lawyers revealed that certain phones, tablets and iPads are not able to be re-programmed.

Brigit Todd, for the police, said the restriction should remain as the devices were not a necessity for day-to-day activities.

Police received reports of hundreds of suspicious calls
Police received reports of hundreds of suspicious calls

But Judge James said that tablets and iPads were regularly used by lawyers in court and it is “increasingly impossible” to find a Smartphone which didn’t have access to the Internet.

He added: “This is a difficult case where Peters has twice been convicted of downloading indecent images of children.

“On the second conviction the Crown, quite properly, sought an order to protect against further offences by the imposition of a SOPO.

“I thought that proportionate and necessary and that included a requirement that the software used by police should be added to any device.”

“It is a balancing act but he knows if he deletes his browsing history he is in breach of the order" - Judge Simon James

He said Crown lawyers had since written to the court to say the software could only be installed on devices that have a particular connection, which excluded many Apple and Microsoft devices.

The judge said that in Peters’ case other restrictions – which included a prevention to delete the internet history of devices – was adequate to protect the public.

Peters- who was no present for the hearing – also has to inform police which devices he owns and to make them available for inspection by police officers.

“It is a balancing act but he knows if he deletes his browsing history he is in breach of the order.”

The Crown was told that if software is developed for use in tablets and Smartphones, lawyers can return to court to amend the order.

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