Police uncover five million child porn images in Lincolnshire

THE number of indecent images of children found by police in Lincolnshire trebled last year.

Police formed a specialist paedophile online investigation team in the county last year to tackle the growing number of images appearing on the internet.

This week alone the team have made two arrests in Lincolnshire and found more than 5,500 videos of children being abused.

Det Sgt Paul Hutchins, who is in charge of the team said: “In 2010 we found one-and-a-half million indecent images of children in Lincolnshire.

“In 2011 we found more than five million.

“We are currently working on 20 worldwide investigations that stretch as far away as Australia. The internet has no bounds.

“The number of arrests made last year doubled. We are making a difference and will continue to make a difference. The figures speak for themselves.”

Det Sgt Hutchins said that evolving technology and storage capacity were factors that had led to the number of images being uploaded and being found increasing.

He said: “Two or three years ago a large collection would be 60,000 or 70,000. We are now into the hundreds of thousands. It is still very much an underground operation.

“This week alone we found more than 700,000 images on one computer.

“A few years ago storage was only in megabytes, now we’re talking about terabytes and it’s only going to get bigger.”

New devices such as iPhones, iPods, X-boxes and even a fridge that connects to the internet have the potential to download indecent images.

Last year the team protected 35 children who were involved in indecent image cases in Lincolnshire.

Det Sgt Hutchins said: “People think their children are safe up in their rooms talking to friends over MSN, but do they really know what they are doing?

“At the end of the day we do this for the children. At the end of every image is a victim.”

NSPCC spokesman Claire Lilley said: “It is crucial to remember that children and babies are sexually abused to create indecent images like those seized by Lincolnshire Police.

“Once an image is online it can never be completely removed and the victims will always have to live with this dreadful situation.

“Those who view, download and distribute the images for sexual gratification are effectively colluding in the abuse of a child.”

Det Sgt Hutchins said there were ways that people in the area could help the investigation team and keep their children safe.

He said: “www.ceop.police.uk is the website of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre which has a lot of advice for parents and for children.”