Week-of-action targeting online child sex abuse and exploitation
Police have interviewed 13 suspects during a week of action targeting those involved in online child sexual abuse and exploitation in Norfolk.
The national week of action, held between Monday and Friday last week (30 October – 3 November), aimed at targeting individuals who use the internet to access indecent images or groom children, as well as protecting and safeguarding potential victims.
The operation involved detectives from the Safeguarding Children Online Team (SCOLT) and Multi-Agency Sexual Exploitation (MASE) team as well as other specialist officers.
The SCOLT executes its own warrants generated from intelligence, including referrals from Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) - part of the National Crime Agency (NCA) – information from other forces and members of the public.
During the week of action, there were:
· Nine warrants executed at addresses in Norfolk
· 279 devices seized including mobile phones and laptops
· Seven potential victims of Child Sexual Exploitation seen by officers and safeguarded
Acting Detective Inspector Ian Cox, who oversees the SCOLT and MASE teams, said: "We are dealing with an exceptional volume of child sexual abuse reports, including people who use digital technology and the internet to groom children or create, share or view images of child sexual abuse.
"Grooming and sexual abuse that takes place online is as real to the victim as abuse that happens in the street or at home.
"Such offenders try to hide what they do online, but they need to know that the internet is not a safe anonymous space for accessing indecent images or grooming children. They leave a digital footprint and we will find it.”
The week of action runs concurrently with the national campaign, Operation NetSafe, which sees Norfolk Constabulary and a child protection charity working together to further tackle online child sexual abuse images.
It looks to prevent online child abuse through public awareness of the Stop it Now! UK website and free confidential helpline run by the charity, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation.
Both encourage abusers and potential abusers to seek help by giving adults the information they need to protect children safely. They can also be used by family members and friends of offenders who are concerned about their behaviour.
If you suspect that child sex abuse is taking place please contact Norfolk Constabulary on 101, or alternatively Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.