Kozhikode: In a first of its kind in the country, Kerala has set up an independent body to detect, prevent and tackle online crimes against children. State police chief Loknath Behera has ordered setting up of an exclusive team in light of the increasing online crimes against children, with immediate effect. The team will be known as Counter Child Sexual Exploitation (CCSE) team, with 13 officers, headed by Malappuram district police chief Prateesh Kumar.
“Basically the physical safety of children is given more importance even after they encounter some abusers online. Children are being threatened through online media. Our role will be to protect children from the crimes that arise from the online platform, which sometimes also go to the real world, where children are threatened and abused outside. They are again subjected to blackmailing and extortion. Such crimes are increasing in our state,” Prateesh said.
The DGP stated that the team will function under the overall control of Inspector General of Police (IG), Thiruvananhapuram range, Manoj Abraham and under the direct control of Crime Branch IG Sreejith S. Abraham is the nodal officer of Cyberdome and Sreejith is the nodal officer for child protection.
The team will be responsible for setting up a digital system for reporting online child offences, online patrolling to detect digital exploitation of children and prevention of online abuse and exploitation of children. They will also be responsible for initiating criminal action against offenders involved in the above crimes.
The CCSE team will also inform and educate organisations, parents, teachers, frontline service providers and children on various issues related to online child abuse and exploitation.
Various organisations working under the ambit of Interpol have already vouched their support, training and resources for the functioning of the team, the DGP informed.
Though the country has a comprehensive legal framework for protection of child rights in the form of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, POCSO Act and RTE Act and the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Amendment Act, 2016, there is limited awareness about online risks for children, both among parents and children themselves, he added.
The lack of a dedicated team to prevent and detect such online offences has been one of the main obstacles in dealing with such crimes. Hence the CCSE team was set up on December 5, with immediate effect, the state police chief added.
Railways SP Merin Joseph, special branch CID DySP Mohammed Shafi and DySP Sunil Kumar AU are also in the team.