Suspected paedophiles arrested in targeted operation

Date published: 08 September 2023 13:43
Dated: 08 September 2023 14:41:52

Nearly 30 suspected paedophiles have been arrested and over 20 children safeguarded from harm, as part of a dedicated initiative by our specialist Internet Sex Offences Team (ISOT).

Over the last 12 months, the team has carried out targeted disruption activity to tackle internet sexual offending and protect children from being groomed, exploited, and abused online.

Detective Inspector Lee Wilson, who leads the ISOT, said: “I came from a background of investigating serious organised crime when I joined the ISOT, so I am very used to a proactive approach when it comes to disrupting and dismantling organised networks of criminality intended to cause harm.

“While working in the ISOT is more low-profile, it is no less proactive, and the team has wholly thrown themselves into executing as many warrants as possible to locate and arrest people we believe pose a significant risk to children.”

In 13 days of concerted action, the ISOT executed 32 warrants resulting in the arrests of 28 people for a range of offences including possession of indecent images of children, sexual communication with a child, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, as well as rape and sexual assault.

DI Wilson added: “Our focus is to get these individuals into custody and wherever possible, we seek to secure charges quickly working alongside the Crown Prosecution Service. In some cases, this can happen there and then – especially if an offender is already subject to requirements under the Sex Offenders’ Register or Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPOs).

“However, as much of the evidence exists in the digital world, we need to seize digital devices so that they can be forensically examined by our Digital Forensics Unit (DFU). To give you an idea of the scale of this work, in just those 13 days of action, the ISOT seized 285 devices.

“To allow for these enquiries to take place, individuals may be released on bail but are placed under strict conditions. If those conditions are breached, then that constitutes a further criminal offence and could see them being remanded.”

In addition to the arrest of suspects and investigation of online sexual offending, the ISOT has also provided safeguarding for 21 children, who were identified as being at potential risk of sexual harm/offending.

DI Wilson continued: “The reason we all come to work every day, in the challenging and difficult world of ISOT, is to keep children safe and to stop sexual offenders.

“The team works incredibly hard to progress any and all information about suspected online sex crimes, arresting individuals and seizing their devices. This swift, decisive action halts their criminality and can disrupt an entire network of sexual predators.

“Our work does not stop and will not stop, however, and we move forward into the next 12 months with resolve and determination.”

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