PSNI hold 14 as part of UK-wide operation against paedophiles

Total of 660 arrested across UK in 6-month case

Police in Britain have arrested 660 people in relation to child abuse material. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Police in Britain have arrested 660 people in relation to child abuse material. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Wed, Jul 16, 2014, 14:21

Fourteen people were arrested in Northern Ireland has part of an operation across the UK against suspected paedophiles.

The PSNI carried out 15 searches and made 14 arrests, it said today. Police added that two children from Northern Ireland identified to be at potential risk were now under the protection of the social services.

“The aim of this operation is to protect children who are victims of, or might be at risk of, sexual exploitation,” the PSNI said in a statement. “The targets were people accessing indecent images of children online and the majority of these people were not yet known to police — they are now, and they will stay in our sights.”

“We have identified that many offenders who start by accessing indecent images online go on to abuse children directly so the operation is not only about detecting people who have already offended — it is about reducing the risk of serious harm to children,” said the police.

“Offenders possessing indecent images of children online should know that the internet is not a safe hiding place. We will continue to use a range of investigative techniques targeting all forms of abuse to protect children and vulnerable people and bring offenders to justice,” added the PSNI.

The major operation against alleged sex abuse crimes led to the arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles across the UK, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

The six-month operation targeted internet users who access child abuse images but has already led to charges for serious sexual assault.

Among the several hundred people arrested across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are workers who had access to children through their jobs and had no previous contact with police.

The massive investigation, involving 45 police forces, led to hundreds of children being “safeguarded”, the NCA said. It stressed that none of those arrested was a serving or former MP or member of the government.