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Police To "Relentlessly Pursue" Child Offenders In Crackdown

West Yorkshire Police identified 71 paedophile suspects in the first year of an online operation.

Scores of suspected paedophiles were arrested last year by a specialist Regional Organised Crime Unit working in the Yorkshire and Humber Region.

The job of the Unit, which was created a year ago and is based in Yorkshire, is to identify those who use the internet to contact children for sexual purposes and to safeguard victims and potential victims.

Members of the team are active on social media channels, instant messaging apps and other online platforms where it is known children can be groomed.

Detective Inspector Jonathan Best from the Yorkshire and the Humber Regional Organised Crime Unit heads the investigations.

He said: “Our ability to identify those posing the greatest risk to children in the region has been significantly advanced by this unit.

“Online Child Abuse Activist Groups have emerged in recent times and there seems to be a perception that police are not doing this work − but that is absolutely not the case.

“We are active online, working alongside social media providers, and protecting children with great success. The unit and wider law enforcement community have the training and powers needed to take the necessary action to tackle those suspected of committing offences.”

Last year, the unit’s officers identified and protected 74 vulnerable children − either victims or those at direct risk of harm − through intervention and enforcement activity.

The creation of the unit is a result of an investment of £20-million in Regional and Organised Crime Units and means officers can now focus full-time on tackling CSE offenders operating online.

Det Insp Best, added: “The severity of offences cannot be underestimated, children can be badly scarred by the experiences, psychologically and emotionally − through online exchanges with these offenders − even if they have not been physically harmed.

“This crime type has a devastating effect on the lives of victims and a child’s safety is at the forefront of all operational and investigative activity.

“My message is, if you chose to offend against children, we will relentlessly pursue you, so you can be held accountable.

“There is help available to those who recognise the seriousness of their actions, the Stop It Now campaign run by the Lucy Faithful Foundation have an anonymous helpline (0808 1000900) as well a secure online messaging platform.”

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