Arrests made after police operation targeting paedophiles

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A nationwide operation targeting child sex offenders has led to a number of arrests in the area.

A total of 660 people were arrested in the UK during Operation Notarise, which was co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency.

Locally, 14 people were arrested in Lincolnshire, nine in Leicestershire and Rutland, and eight in Cambridgeshire. The figures have not yet been broken down further.

Most of those arrested were suspected of possessing and distributing indecent images of children. None of those arrested in the area have yet been charged.

The operation targeted people allegedly accessing indecent images of children online. Details of the operation have not been released until now to protect children, identify offenders and secure evidence.

Head of public protection in Lincolnshire Supt Rick Hatton said: “We are deliberately not disclosing details of the tactics used to identify offenders. By damaging paedophiles’ confidence about operating online, we are letting them, and potential abusers, know that the internet is not a safe place for them and that the digital footprint they leave is one which we are committed to following to ensure children are protected from harm”.

Police have also been working to safeguard children who the suspects may have had access to. This may have been by giving them bail conditions not to have unsupervised contact with the children, or by alerting parents and carers to the potential for harm.

National Crime Agency Deputy Director General Phil Gormley said: “This is the first time the UK has had the capability to coordinate a single targeted operation of this nature. Over the past six months we have seen unprecedented levels of cooperation to deliver this result.

Head of crime for Leicestershire Police Chief Supt Stu Prior said: “This operation is just one part of our work to protect children from abuse. It represents about a fifth of our current workload of investigations into the possession or distribution of indecent images.

“Paedophiles and those interested in extreme pornography need to know that the internet is not a safe place for them. They will leave a digital trail which we and our partners can follow.

“We are unable to disclose the tactics used in this operation, as we will be using it again in future work.”

“Our aim was to protect children who were victims of, or might be at risk of, sexual exploitation. A child is victimised not only when they are abused and an image is taken. They are re-victimised every time that image is viewed by someone.

“Some of the people who start by accessing indecent images online go on to abuse children directly. So the operation is not only about catching people who have already offended – it is about influencing potential offenders before they cross that line.”

Anyone convicted of possessing indecent images faces a maximum sentence of five years. Anyone convicted of offences involving making, taking or distributing indecent images faces up to ten years in jail.