THIS IS JUST SMALL BEER BUT AT LEAST THEY ARE CAUGHT
Police blitz on paedophiles leads to arrest of 660 suspects including doctors, teachers, Scout leaders and care workers
- Police crackdown has led to the arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles
- Includes teachers, Scout leaders, doctors, former officers and care workers
- Arrested on suspicion of downloading and distributing child abuse images
- National Crime Agency (NCA) said many had no prior contact with police
A sex crime crackdown has led to the arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles across Britain including teachers, Scout leaders and care workers, it has been revealed today.
The six-month operation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) targeted internet users in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland who accessed child abuse images online.
Many of those arrested are workers who had access to children through their jobs and had no previous contact with police, the NCA confirmed.
The organisation added that suspects include doctors, teachers, Scout leaders, care workers and former police officers.
All the suspects were arrested on suspicion of downloading and distributing child abuse images.
According to case studies released by the NCA, one suspect was a doctor who had access to more than one million obscene images of children. When he was arrested, a rope and sex aids were found in the boot of his car.
Another suspect was found to have access to 17 grandchildren, two of whom had already warned that he had abused them. He is in police custody.
Another was a foster carer who had no previous convictions or allegations against him. When he was arrested, he was caring for an autistic 12-year-old.
The NCA stressed today that none of those arrested is a serving or former MP or member of the Government.
In total, only 39 registered sex offenders are among those arrested.
The massive investigation, involving 45 police forces, led to hundreds of children being ‘safeguarded’ and has already led to a number of charges for serious sexual assault, the NCA said.
Officers have searched 833 properties and examined 9,172 computers, phones and hard drives.
The NCA said it built up ‘intelligence packages’ on suspects and sent them to police forces across Britain.
NCA deputy director general
NCA deputy director general Phil Gormley said the crackdown involved alleged paedophiles who used the so-called ‘dark web’ as well as traditional internet access.
The ‘dark web’ is internet content that is not listed by normal search engines. Users will often use payment methods such as virtual currencies to help avoid detection.
The 431 children who were safeguarded were in the ‘care, custody or control’ of the suspects, and included 127 who were deemed to be at immediate risk of harm.
Mr Gormley said: ‘I am pretty appalled about what it says about human nature. Which is why we need to think very carefully about what this means and how we approach this type of offending behaviour, and the propensity of quite large numbers of people to view this material.
‘We have got to develop and continue to develop the best techniques possible to make the internet as hostile as possible.’
Mr Gormley added he was ‘profoundly disappointed’ that so many suspects had been arrested over this type of crime, and said a harder look needs to be taken at the high numbers of people accessing child abuse images.
He said: ‘The alternative is not to look under the stone, and we cannot afford not to look under this stone.’
The vast majority of the suspects had been able to avoid capture until now. When asked how this had happened, he said: ‘It’s a bit like a drugs problem. You need to look for it if you’re going to find it. People are unlikely to report this type of crime, you’re not going to have witnesses to it in the way that traditional crime types will.’
Two years ago the NCA estimated that 50,000 people were involved in sharing child abuse images online, and in the past 20 years the number of images available has soared from an estimated 10,000 to tens of millions.
Claire Lilley, head of online safety at the NSPCC, said: ‘This is an important two-pronged operation which has rescued children from abuse and also identified many previously unknown sex offenders.
‘Direct action like this sends a strong message to those who subject children to harrowing sexual assaults that they can and will be traced and prosecuted.
‘But law enforcement agencies alone cannot deal with the vast problem of illegal images which continue to flood the market.
‘Industry has to find inventive ways of blocking the flow of such horrendous pictures which are only produced through the suffering of defenceless children – many of who are not even old enough to go to school.
‘So while this operation must be rightly applauded we should view it as yet another warning sign that far more needs to be done if we are to stem the sordid trade in these images, which are often used by those who go on to abuse children.’
CASE STUDIES OF THOSE ARRESTED BY NCA
Here are details of those case studies:
- Case A – A doctor who had access to more than one million obscene images of children was arrested, and rope and sex aids were found in the boot of his car. The medic, who was arrested with a second man and is currently in custody, had allegedly got in touch with and met up with boys.
- Case B – Another suspect admitted in police interview that he had been viewing sexual images of children for 30 years, since he was 16. He said that he regularly travelled to Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand as a sex tourist and has been highlighted as a risk to children abroad.
- Case C – A man who was already identified as a sex offender admitted that he was part of an online group that shared films of child abuse carried out by one of the other members. The NCA said that the footage was of the most severe form of abuse against very young children.
- Case D – A registered violent sex offender who was already charged with the rape of a girl under 13 was arrested and charged with further counts of possessing indecent images of children. These included “erotic” posing right through to the most depraved forms of abuse.
- Case E – One suspect was found to have access to 17 grandchildren, two of whom had already warned that he had abused them. He is in custody.
- Case F – A foster carer, who had no previous convictions or allegations against him, was arrested at a time when he was caring for an autistic 12-year-old who has now been identified as being at risk of serious harm. Officers are searching four computers and one phone and the investigation is ongoing.