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Chasing the virtual world of child sex tourism: how is the internet used to facilitate child sex tourism and do UK law enforcement agencies have the tools they need to effectively enforce the laws for those breaking them in the physical and virtual world?

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This dissertation investigates how the internet is used to facilitate child sex tourism and whether UK law enforcement including as the Police, Serious Organised Crime Agency, UK Border Agency, as well as the Probation Service and Criminal Justice system have the tools they need to effectively enforce the laws for those breaking them on and offline. By critically analysing secondary sources of peer reviewed studies and research from campaigning charities the research critically examines how and why child sex offenders travel internationally to abuse children. It explores the ‘push and pull’ factors encouraging the travel finding that the internet is the perfect tool to facilitate these abuses against the worlds most vulnerable. The research investigates in depth the tactics offenders use to encourage, plan and facilitate international child sex tourism. The research then explores how the internet is policed by law enforcement examining their strengths and weaknesses. It found that UK law enforcement is knowledgeable about how child sex tourists operate and are extremely skilled in specific areas of online investigation and surveillance. However the research found that they lack in particular areas such as administrating control measures of child sex offenders travelling abroad, their use of the internet and their monitoring upon return from international travel. The numbers of officers trained to handle digital evidence and act as a Covert Human Intelligence Source has also found to be insufficient for the task that is faced. Finally the lack of foreign judicial support given to destination countries lacks compared to other western nations which the UK can learn from. This critical examination allowed for the research to conclude that UK law enforcement do not have the tools they need to effectively police child sex tourists in the physical and virtual world. Now it is understood how the crime is committed and policed, other practitioners can research in greater depth the issue of UK law enforcement responding to the international crime which will hopefully aim to shape policy.

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