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UPDATE: Paedophile Arrests

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9:18am 17th July 2014
(Updated 9:18am 17th July 2014)

Eleven men in Cornwall have been arrested on suspicion of possessing indecent images of children.

Six of those were in the east of the Duchy and five in the west.

All have been released on bail.

Almost 30 suspected paedophiles have been arrested across both Cornwall and Devon as part of a major investigation.

The National Crime Agency has revealed it has been locked in a six month secret operation centering on people who accessed indecent images online.

660 people have been arrested, some have already faced charges. 400 children have been taken to safety.

Doctors, teachers, scout leaders, care workers and former police officers were among those picked up across the UK.

Devon and Cornwall Police have told Pirate FM they were involved in the investigation. They said: "The focus of the investigation was to prevent child abuse before it happens and safeguard children who are victims or might be at risk of sexual exploitation. A child is victimised not only when they are abused and an image is taken but they are re-victimised every time that image is viewed by someone.

"During this operation officers executed 32 warrants across the peninsula, which resulted in 22 arrests. All of the suspects are currently on police bail.
 
"Seven warrants were also completed targeting people who had viewed indecent images of children online, which were not part of the NCA operation, leading to seven further arrests.
 
"The overall policing operation was led by the Public Protection Unit supported by officers from our Force Support Group and Local Investigation teams. This direct action identified children who were at risk, who are now safe and protected due to the support they were provided by the police and Children’s Services."
 
Detective Chief Inspector Brett Mitchell from the Public Protection Unit added: "We know some of the people who access indecent images of children online go on to abuse children directly and this operation has been focussed on preventing this from happening.
 
"Targeting offenders who access indecent images of children online influences potential abusers, preventing children becoming victims of sexual abuse.
 
"The internet is not a safe space for paedophiles to access and view indecent images of children. Their activity leaves a digital footprint, which we will find.
 
"We have a team of specially trained detectives within our Public Protection Unit who are dedicated to finding and prosecuting paedophiles and are making arrests every day across the Force.
 
"Devon and Cornwall Police will continue to target paedophiles as part of our daily operational activity as we are committed to protecting children and finding people who believe it is acceptable to commit this crime."

The former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre is warning it could be just the tip of the iceberg.

Jim Gamble wants to see more operations like this one: "What I'd like to see is a consistent and in fact persistent approach in this regard. More people being arrested, more people being brought before the courts because we know there are 50 to 60 thousand people downloading these images in the UK.

"Their assets are being stripped, there are fewer police officers available than ever before, the other agencies are all suffering cuts and there's confusion around the shifting landscape around probation and offender management because we're being privatised. There's that confusion, there's fewer resources and there's a greater demand."

9:18am 17th July 2014

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