[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ba29pcAh_9g” height=”400″ responsive=”yes” autoplay=”no”]A total of 51 people have been arrested across southern Wales as part of a UK-wide operation carried out against suspected paedophiles.
The six month long operation targeted people accessing indecent images of children online.
Of the 51 arrests in the force areas of Gwent, South Wales and Dyfed-Powys two were Registered Sex Offenders. Several of those arrested had unsupervised access to children including a scout leader and a foster carer.
Other local arrests included a former police officer and a social service manager.
Charging decisions are awaited in most cases but so far 12 people have been charged with offences of possession and distribution indecent images of children.
As a result of the operation 42 children have been protected, and 16 safeguarded within southern Wales (see notes to editors).
Co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) the national operation involved 45 police forces across Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. It has to date seen 660 arrests with more than 400 children across the UK safeguarded. The operation stayed covert until today in order to protect children, identify offenders and secure evidence.
Assistant Chief Constable for Specialist Crime, Nikki Holland, said: “This has been a huge operation where we have targeted numerous offenders accessing child abuse images. The majority of these people may have thought they were operating under the radar but we were able to identify them and this sends a strong message to other offenders – you will be caught.
“Nationally we have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of reports of sexual abuse of children and our primary aim is to protect children who were victims of, or might be at risk of, sexual exploitation.
“Children are victimised not only when they are abused and an image is first taken. They are victimised repeatedly every time that image is viewed.
“We also know that people who start by accessing indecent images online can then go on to abuse children directly. So the operation is not only about catching people who have already offended – it is about influencing potential offenders before they cross that line.”
She added: “Offenders need to know that the internet is not a safe anonymous space for accessing indecent images, that they leave a digital footprint, and that law enforcement will find it.”