Arrests as part of national child sex abuse crackdown

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TWO men suspected of online sex abuse of children were arrested as part of a two day national crackdown by police.

Lancashire Constabulary joined other police forces to work with CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) and SOCA (Serious and Organised Crime Agency) to show a joined up approach to tackling criminals making, possessing or distributing indecent images of children.

During the two days of action officers executed warrants at suspects’ addresses and seized computers and other potential evidence.

A 32-year-old man and a 57-year-old man were arrested in Surrey in relation to suspected offences committed in the Morecambe area.

Seven other people across Lancashire and Cumbria were also arrested for similar offences.

Detective Superintendent Ian Critchley, head of public protection, said: “Each indecent image of a young person on a computer identifies at least one child that has been abused.

“It doesn’t matter where this is in the world, it is our duty to ensure we work with other authorities, particularly CEOP and often with law enforcement agencies from abroad, to protect all vulnerable children.

“As a result of our proactive work, together with that of CEOP in identifying users of websites that carry such abhorrent images, we arrested over 180 individuals last year in Lancashire for possession of indecent images.

“Further examination of computers often highlights that offenders have gone on to distribute indecent images to others, spreading the abuse.

“These most recent raids show our ongoing commitment to tackling this issue and we will continue to take such action in the future in order to keep youngsters safe from harm.”

“Protecting young people is a priority for us and we will ensure that those individuals who view, possess and distribute indecent images of children are identified and brought to justice. There are significant consequences for offenders in terms of the impact on their own careers, on their own families - as we will always consider the safeguarding of their own children – and in terms of their own liberty, as jail sentences can be lengthy and should act as a warning for members of the public when considering viewing indecent images.”

The force also held two live interactive web sessions to allow school pupils the opportunity to ask a panel of experts about online safety.

Input was also given during school lessons, with 8,362 children and 143 teachers learning about internet safety.

Det Supt Critchley added: “We are worryingly seeing an increase in offenders who are attempting to groom young people through the internet, in order to sexually exploit them.

“Our work with the three safeguarding boards across Lancashire, Blackburn with Darwen and Blackpool is focussed on increasing awareness amongst young people, parents and carers around safer usage of the internet.

“The internet is a daily part of most young people’s lives and it is really important that they are aware of the dangers they face online and know that there is help available to them if they find themselves in a situation that they are uncomfortable with.”