Prison for online grooming proposed

Last updated 05:00 29/08/2012

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Paedophiles who use the internet to groom children will face three years in jail under a proposed law.

Justice Minister Judith Collins yesterday announced a crackdown on internet child pornography, toughening up the maximum penalties for a range of offences.

Included in the proposals is the new offence of indecent communication with anyone under 16, which is designed to target those who try to gain the trust of children through social media or chatrooms.

Intentionally viewing child porn will also become a crime, and anyone convicted of a child pornography offence for a second time will automatically receive a jail sentence.

Ms Collins said young people were now living their lives online and had to be protected.

The Internal Affairs Department's digital child exploitation filtering system is filtering between 550 and 560 websites.

Under amendments to the Films, Videos and Publications Classification Act, people making or distributing child exploitation images will face a maximum 14 years in jail, up from 10 years.

Maximum sentences for possessing, exporting or importing an objectionable publication will rise from five to 10 years.

Since 2009 the police specialist team Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (Oceanz) has been involved in investigations which rescued 33 child victims of online child abuse, 22 of whom were from New Zealand.

Between 2004 and 2011, almost 400 people were convicted of an objectionable publication offence. A third received a prison sentence.

Oceanz head Detective Senior Sergeant John Michael said he welcomed any legislative change "which makes it easier for law enforcement agencies to locate and prosecute offenders who participate in online child exploitation".

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- Fairfax Media

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