Almost one child a day safeguarded online last year
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Our officers who investigate online child abuse safeguarded nearly one child every day in 2019.
The Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) work to protect children from the threat of online offending and targets offenders suspected of making, possessing, and distributing indecent images of children.
In 2019 they safeguarded 312 children. That’s children abusers could have had contact with.
Detective Inspector Jo Collins leads the team and says the work they do has never been more important.
She said: “The work my team does often takes place away from the public eye but it is absolutely crucial to keeping children safe and, sadly, the online threat to children is growing.
“In November 2018 the POLIT team expanded to target more suspects and since then we’ve been working hard to put dangerous sexual predators behind bars and prevent them offending again.
“Last year we executed 240 warrants, made 104 arrests and examined thousands of computers, mobile phones and storage devices.
“Our investigations have seen us work with law enforcement agencies across the globe as we track networks of paedophiles who are making and sharing images of child abuse.”
DI Collins added the job is not easy but is incredibly important: “The crime scenes we investigate are the devices we seize and the content found on them. Viewing and categorising images is the most distressing part of our work but it’s also the most vital.
“Many children suffer physical and psychological harm from the abuse they’ve suffered, and our intervention is often the first help and support they will have had.
“It’s our job to take away the power from the offender and provide a voice for the victim.”
Taking, viewing and/or distributing indecent images of anyone under the age of 18 is a crime.
Offenders risk a criminal conviction, prison sentence and being put on the Sex Offenders’ Register as well as losing their family, friends, job and reputation.
If you are aware that you have inappropriate thoughts and feelings or know someone who does, there is help available.
Anyone concerned about their online activity or that of a friend or relative can seek help from The Lucy Faithfull Foundation at www.lucyfaithfull.org.uk or StopSo at www.stopso.org.uk. Both are charities that work with people at risk of committing harmful sexual behaviour.