A new project to protect kids who use the internet and to crackdown on adults who abuse it has been launched.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre will bring together police, computer experts and kids' charities in a bid to stamp out crime.

Major corporations such as Microsoft, AOL and VISA, as well as children's charities including the NSPCC and Childnet International have put considerable resources and weight behind the new initiative.

The Centre will have a dedicated 24/7 online resource for reporting instances of online child sex abuse as well as use systems to track sex offenders and to disseminate intelligence globally.

The government has also said that the CEOP will have dedicated operators to track and seize assets from those who trade in child abuse images, working in partnership with VISA to develop greater sanctions against those who use legitimate payment mechanisms to purchase such images

Home Office Minister Paul Goggins, commenting on the new organisation, said:

"Child sex abuse is one of the worst crimes imaginable. Victims are attacked during their most vulnerable years and the effects can and, often do, last a life time.

It is a crime from which, not only individual offenders, but also organised criminal enterprises can and do profit."

The growth in the distribution of child abuse images continues to rise - one operation alone seized over 750,000 images - while latest figures show that over 8 million children and young people have access to the internet throughout the UK.

Of those millions, one survey at least has shown a high proportion of those children - 1 in 12 - have met someone offline who they initially encountered in an online environment.

CEO of the new CEOP Centre Jim Gamble said:

"Our challenge therefore is this - to make the internet a safer environment for your child."

He went on to say: "So let us be clear. If you are a sex offender- get help or get caught. The internet will increasingly expose you to new policing powers and will cease to be the anonymous place that it once was.

If you are a parent, a child or a young person don't be afraid, be cautious. If you are a victim then approach us. Let us signpost you to sources of help, advice and support."

As well as tracking and bringing offenders to account the CEOP Centre will be allocating significant resources towards developing education programmes and public awareness campaigns. This will be kick-started by the 'Think You Know' programme which will be launched to schools later in the year, and will provide education on internet safety and advice on the very latest security measures.