ceopCivil court orders designed to prevent sex offenders targeting children after they are released from prison are "not fit for purpose", a report commissioned by the Association of Chief Police Officers has found.

Child protection experts, including those from Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) said orders preventing offenders going to areas near children, travelling abroad and using computers "failed to deliver".

Grossly disproportionate to sex offender numbers
The review of civil prevention orders was commissioned by ACPO lead on child protection Peter Davies and found several "flaws" in system, particularly with orders banning overseas travel.

According to the independent panel of child protection experts, police and lawyers, the use of such orders, designed to prevent sexual offending against children in the UK and abroad, was "grossly disproportionately low" compared to the total number of child sex offenders.

Lack of information on CP orders
Christine Beddoe, one of the report authors, told BBC Radio 4: "Between 2008 and July 2012, 303 British sex offenders had been arrested abroad which is a phenomenal amount and clearly shows something is not working.

"Police forces and their legal advisers [often] do not want to go to court to get an order and lose. There's a lack of information and understanding of what can be done. There's a feeling that we won't go there because we don't understand it."

'Real benefits' to children
The report said the measures put in place by Labour nine years ago, under which convicted paedophiles can be banned from going abroad for up to five years, were "over-complicated" and should be replaced by a single civil order.

It concluded that some "straightforward changes" would produce "real benefits [to children] at no threat to human rights legislation".

Constantly evolving threat
ACC Davies, who is also chief executive of Ceop, said: "We recognise that the world is constantly changing and offenders will continue to seek new ways to abuse children, which is why our work with partners around the globe is constantly evolving to ensure we're always one step ahead of abusers.

"The centre continues to prove its place on a global platform as one of the leading child sexual abuse law enforcement agencies, and through our commitment to prevent abuse, protect children and pursue offenders the UK's children are safer because of its vital work."

Internet threat to children
Meanwhile, Ceop said in its annual report that it dealt with 18,887 reports of abuse over the past year, an average of 1,600 a month and an increase of 14% on the previous year.

Ceop also safeguarded and protected a record 790 children - an 85% rise. The agency warned the growing availability of high-speed internet around the world was likely to increase the threat of child sexual abuse.