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Officers hunting child abusers make 1,600 arrests in year

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Officers hunting child abusers make 1,600 arrests in year

Undercover officers hunting child abusers online made more than 1,600 arrests in one year, the National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) said.

Officers from the NPCC’s Undercover Online (UCOL) network made 1,665 arrests from October 2022 to September 2023, according to the council.

Offenders included those who shared indecent images of children; those who encouraged children to send them the images; and those who groomed children and arranged to meet them.

National Police Chiefs’ Council Lead for Undercover Online, Assistant Chief Constable Alastair Simpson, said it was a “genuine national network” of officers working to combat online child abuse.

“I think it is important that the public are aware that that every day really skilled operatives are patrolling online spaces, capturing sexual predators every day and protecting children from harm every day,” he said.

Mr Simpson added there is an undercover online unit in every regional organised crime unit in the country.

“We work closely with partners, such as the National Crime Agency, we gather intelligence, we follow intelligence, and we pursue perpetrators of sexual offences online – and we seek to tackle the most dangerous offenders online,” he said.

He said that the network had safeguarded “over 1,000” children in the past year alone.

Mr Simpson said: “So, our message to anyone who does seek to sexually abuse or exploit children online is fairly simple.

“Our undercover officers could be anywhere, at any time, and could be investigating you this very second.”

Wendy Hart, deputy director for child sexual abuse at the National Crime Agency, said the use of undercover officers has been “crucial”.

She added: “Education is also a key part of the law enforcement response.”

Parents and carers can find information, resources and advice on protecting children at www.thinkuknow.co.uk.

Minister for Security, Tom Tugendhat, said the scale of child abuse online is “appalling”.

“We must be unrelenting in the pursuit of offenders,” he said.

“The Police’s Undercover Online Network is vital for delivering swift justice to predators and safeguarding vulnerable children.

“We will continue to send a message to child sex offenders that they cannot act with impunity online. They will be found, and they will be punished for their crimes.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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