Thursday 14 June 2012
CEOP coordinate UK-wide police operation to crack down on suspected child sexual offenders
A nation-wide police operation targeting known and suspected child sexual offenders has resulted in more than 143 search warrants being executed, 78 suspected offenders being arrested and 80 children safeguarded and protected from abuse so far.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre joined forces with over 40 police forces and officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in Operation Tharsley for two days of action on Tuesday 12th and Wednesday 13th June, in a bid to crack down on those individuals thought to be in possession of child abuse images.
The suspects were identified as a result of intelligence received directly from CEOP as well as from investigations conducted locally.
The majority of the warrants conducted related to image offences, including the possession and distribution of indecent images of children (IIOC). Additionally arrests were also made where known offenders had breached the conditions of the Sex Offender’s Register.
The CEOP Centre coordinated Operation Tharsley with UK police forces and with support from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, who provided 34 officers to assist with the execution of warrants, seizing equipment and interviewing of offenders.
The conclusion of Operation Tharsley coincides with the launch of a report from the CEOP called ‘A Picture of Abuse’. This Thematic Assessment brings together current academic thinking and operational police experience in the form of case studies and practitioner debriefs, in order to better understand the risk posed by ‘image only’ offenders. The report underlines the significant risk of contact offending posed by those who possess indecent images of children. It makes key recommendations about how police forces, others involved in child protection and the criminal justice process, can manage that risk to safeguard and protect more children.
Andy Baker, Deputy Chief Executive of CEOP, said:
“It is clear that those who possess indecent images also pose a significant risk to children and understanding and managing that risk is not an easy undertaking. However, when we bring together the latest intelligence picture, nationally coordinated police action and operational support from our colleagues in SOCA, we are making the UK a more hostile place for those who are seeking to exploit our children.
“If offenders think that collecting child abuse images is something they can get away with, they need to think again. Theses arrests show once again how law enforcement is becoming increasingly coordinated, sophisticated and innovative in targeting those who commit these crimes.”
“Operation Tharsley highlights the excellent work carried out by UK police forces on a daily basis and I’ve seen first-hand the passion and dedication of officers investigating these cases. With our transition into the National Crime Agency, we will continue to support forces with child abuse investigations and enhance the UK’s response in combating child sexual exploitation”