By Tara Rippin • 09 March 2021 • 14:09
Crackdown on online sex offenders sees 31 arrests safeguarding 68 kids in one week.
DETECTIVES are continuing to urge parents/carers and young people to remain vigilant and educate themselves about the dangers of being online and the risks it can pose.
Between March 1 and 7, officers from across the Met executed 64 warrants, made 31 arrests, and safeguarded 68 children as part of Operation Legatum.
This operation, led by the Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Unit, focuses on identifying and pursuing suspected online offenders.
Detective Superintendent Helen Flanagan, from the Met’s OCSAE Unit, said: “Officers have been continuing to work flat out during lockdown to track down those suspected of harming children and young people online.
“With this in mind I want to continue to encourage parents and young people to take appropriate steps to remain safe online. We know there is an increased threat posed by the growing amount of time spent online during the UK’s lockdown.
“The internet can be a great space for young people to play, socialise and learn, and offers wonderful opportunities. However, it can be used by offenders to prey on young people and commit serious offences.
“Lockdown has led to a significant growth in online use, including by children. Unfortunately, it also means there are a greater number of sexual predators out there trying to target and groom young people.”
During last week’s operation, officers seized 264 exhibits and carried out a further 33 safeguarding visits. Those arrested came from a variety of backgrounds.
Online offenders sometimes try and convince themselves that they’re ‘only looking’ but there is no such thing, said the force.
“Every image is a crime scene, with a real child being abused. Every time offenders look at or share that image they are committing a crime and repeating abuse which devastates lives.”
Detectives will now have to examine tens of thousands of child abuse and exploitation images on phones, tablets, and laptops as part of their investigations.
The Met said it has seen a rise in reporting and receives an average of 60 reports a week from the National Crime Agency.”
Anyone worried about their own or someone else’s online behaviour can get confidential support from Stop It Now! by calling 0808 1000 900 or visiting stopitnow.org.uk/helpline
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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