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77 suspected paedophiles held in Scotland

File photo.

File photo.

Published Jul 31, 2016

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London - More than 30 million images of child sex abuse have been discovered and over 500 young victims have been identified by a major police operation.

Police in Scotland have charged 77 people with crimes against children, including the rape of some as young as three.

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Other charges relate to sharing indecent images of children, grooming for sexual purposes, sexual extortion and indecent communication with children.

In one case, a computer with ten million images depicting child abuse was found. Police said it would take four full-time officers six months just to view the images uncovered.

Of the 523 victims and potential victims, 122 have been referred to child protection services.

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The crackdown, called Operation Lattise, involved 134 separate investigations, carried out between June 6 and July 15. The victims were identified after the homes of 83 people were searched and 547 computers and other devices were seized.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham of Police Scotland said some of the material involved abuse of babies. He described the online grooming of children and sharing of indecent images as a “national threat”.

Almost 400 charges have been brought so far – but police expect this figure to rise as they identify more suspects. Of those arrested, six are already registered sex offenders and four were in “positions of trust”. One suspect was found to be communicating with more than 110 children.

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Mr Graham said: “We are not talking about teens sending pictures of each other. We are talking about, in some cases, infants and babies being sexually abused.

“It is about real victims in Scotland and elsewhere. It’s about these horrific acts which ruin people’s lives and we need to make sure that stops.

“Online child sexual abuse is a national threat. The reality is it is happening now … to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers.”

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The assistant chief constable said that in some respects he had been surprised and horrified at the level of abuse that was discovered.

But he added: “Sadly, in other respects I am not because we have got a growing level of the scale of this problem.”

Graham revealed that as well as the Scottish victims identified, the force had uncovered images and evidence of child sexual abuse from around the world – including the live streaming of sexual acts being carried out on children.

“The impact of online child abuse can be wide-ranging but have long-lasting, life-changing effects,” he said.

“And when we’re talking about the sharing of images we’re not just talking about indecent images of nude or naked children, we might be talking about the sexual assault of children, about the rape and sexual torture of a child.

“There’s an evolving and deeply concerning threat posed by predatory sex offenders, given that these offenses can be perpetrated online at the touch of a button.”

Officers examined more than 100 000 internet chat logs – particularly from websites and social media platforms used mainly by children.

Graham said his team were getting better at tracking down child abusers, adding: “I’ve got a simple message for perpetrators – you engage in this type of activity, you will be caught.

“The internet doesn’t offer anonymity … We know people who would seek to commit this type of crime will increasingly try to find ways of not being caught, devious ways and using technology in a sophisticated fashion. Every contact through some sort of online interaction does leave a trace, which can ultimately be directed back to an individual.

“These individuals want to be wherever children are. They are using websites, chat rooms and forums. These men – and it is predominantly men – are using the profiles of younger children to groom them and offend against them.”

Police are working with young people and parents to help raise awareness of the potential dangers of the internet. They said a key aim was to prevent abuse from happening in the first place.

Figures from Police Scotland show that the number of recorded offenses is growing each year. In 2014 there were 23 offenses of grooming children for the purposes of sexual offenses. Last year, the figure had more than doubled, to 50.

The offence of taking, distributing or possessing indecent images of children increased from 605 in 2014 to 645 last year.

Meanwhile, police probing an alleged sex abuse cover-up by Church of England leaders have interviewed Australian victims.

Former archbishop of York Lord David Hope of Thornes, 76, is being investigated for possible misconduct in public office over his handling of complaints of abuse by a fellow clergyman.

The late Rev Robert Waddington was suspected of having raped pupils at a north Queensland boarding school in the 1960s before allegedly abusing choir boys as the Dean of Manchester.

Daily Mail

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