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Devon & Cornwall Police, working in partnership with the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers, has delivered an unprecedented operation to safeguard children across the peninsula by targeting paedophiles that access indecent images of children online.
The focus of the investigation was to prevent child abuse before it happens and safeguard children who are victims or might be at risk of sexual exploitation. A child is victimised not only when they are abused and an image is taken but they are re-victimised every time that image is viewed by someone.
During this operation officers executed 32 warrants across the peninsula, which resulted in 22 arrests. All of the suspects are currently on police bail.
Seven warrants were also completed targeting people who had viewed indecent images of children online, which were not part of the NCA operation, leading to seven further arrests.
The overall policing operation was led by the Public Protection Unit supported by officers from our Force Support Group and Local Investigation teams. This direct action identified children who were at risk, who are now safe and protected due to the support they were provided by the police and Children’s Services.
Detective Chief Inspector Brett Mitchell, Public Protection Unit, said: “We know some of the people who access indecent images of children online go on to abuse children directly and this operation has been focussed on preventing this from happening.
“Targeting offenders who access indecent images of children online influences potential abusers, preventing children becoming victims of sexual abuse.
“The internet is not a safe space for paedophiles to access and view indecent images of children. Their activity leaves a digital footprint, which we will find.
“We have a team of specially trained detectives within our Public Protection Unit who are dedicated to finding and prosecuting paedophiles and are making arrests every day across the Force.
“Devon and Cornwall Police will continue to target paedophiles as part of our daily operational activity as we are committed to protecting children and finding people who believe it is acceptable to commit this crime.”
If you have concerns about a child or young person, or if you are a child or young person and someone has asked you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable either on or offline, you can report through the CEOP safety centre at www.ceop.police.uk
CEOP’s Thinkuknow programme provides information for children, young people, parents and carers about staying safe online and preventing sexual abuse and exploitation. Parents and carers can visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk for advice on keeping their children safe.
If you are a child and you want to speak to someone in confidence about any issue that is upsetting you, you can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or go to www.childline.org.uk to chat to a counsellor in confidence.
If you are an adult and you have concerns about a child you can speak to the NSPCC adult helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a real emergency or need immediate help you should call 999 or contact your local police.
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a registered child protection charity dedicated to reducing the risk of children being sexually abused. It works with entire families affected by sexual abuse, including adult male and female sexual abusers, young people with inappropriate sexual behaviours, victims of abuse, and other family members. More information for adults concerned about their own behaviour, or that of someone they know, is available at www.stopitnow.org.uk/. More information for parents is available at www.parentsprotect.co.uk/
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