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Australian police apologise for sending child porn
Updated: 2004-11-25 15:01

Australian police apologised on Thursday after inadvertently sending Internet images of child pornography to 1,800 schools while trying to warn principals about children at risk of abuse.

The mistake came during a police crackdown on child pornography that has so far resulted in more than 200 arrests, including police, teachers, clergy and the owner of a child-care centre, after more than 400 raids.

Police assistant commissioner Graeme Morgan said human error had resulted in "partial images" of child pornography being sent to 1,800 government-run schools across New South Wales, Australia's most populous state.

"This is a very unfortunate incident and we deeply regret it happened. A full internal investigation is underway," Morgan said in a statement.

Morgan said the images of three young girls had been sent to the state's Department of Education. The photographs sent by police and found during the arrest of a man suspected of possessing child pornography, had been cropped to show only the girls' faces.

However, inadequate software had been used in the cropping process and the full images remained embedded in some files, which were later opened by a handful of recipients, he said.

"This resulted in pornographic material being accidentally sent to the department for distribution to school principals in an effort to identify the children at risk," Morgan said.

He said police have made an urgent request for all unopened files to be deleted and for printed images to be destroyed. About 80 percent of the e-mails have had already been opened, he said.

Morgan said police have so far been unable to locate the girls who were in the photographs.

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