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30 August 2017, 06:25
An additional crackdown, aimed at targeting offenders downloading, taking and distributing indecent images of children online in Essex will be extended for another six months.
In November last year, using an intelligence-led approach, a dedicated team of specialist officers have targeted those involved in the downloading, taking and distribution of indecent images of children.
The team, working alongside and in support of Essex Police’s existing specialist Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) and Child Abuse Investigation Teams (CAIT), executed 44 warrants and arrested 43 people.
A total of 29 suspected offenders have now been charged and a further 11 have been sentenced. Through the operation other offences such as voyeurism, possession of controlled substances and possession of ammunition have been discovered. In total 46 children have been safeguarded throughout the course of the crackdown.
Essex Police can now announce that the additional officers will continue their crackdown on these offenders until March 2018. Their work will continue to support the ongoing work of our existing specialist teams.
In recent days five suspects, who were all arrested during the crackdown, have admitted possessing hundreds of indecent images of children between them and have been sentenced.
Det Chief Insp Jon Burgess, of Essex Police’s Crime and Public Protection Command, said: "I am delighted that this crackdown will continue for another six months.
"It’s important to remember that this team of specialist officers are an additional resource, working in support of our existing POLIT and CAIT teams, to bring even more offenders of this heinous crime to justice.
"The continuation of this crackdown demonstrates our force’s continued and tireless commitment to identify those involved in the viewing, making and distribution of indecent images of children so that we can bring them to justice.
"Nothing is more important than protecting our children, and every child in every indecent image has been abused and exploited."
Det Sgt Ashley Howard, who has led the team of extra officers, added: "The offenders we have brought to justice so far have seen their lives changed forever.
"They have been placed on the Sex Offenders Register for several years - affecting their future ability to gain employment - they have been made the subject of Sexual Harm Prevention Orders (SHPO) and ordered to carry out unpaid work and rehabilitation programmes.
"Our knock on the door of suspected offenders has also changed their family lives beyond recognition.
"Our message has and always will be clear – do not download or view indecent images of children. It is a crime and we will continue to target those who participate in the abuse of children by viewing this imagery."
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, which is the only UK-wide child protection charity focused solely on preventing child sexual abuse, offers support to adults concerned about their sexual thoughts and behaviour towards children.
The charity runs Stop it Now! – a child sexual abuse prevention campaign and helpline
For more information on how Stop it Now! helps people address their online behaviour, please visit the website www.stopitnow.org.uk or call the confidential Stop it Now! Helpline on 0808 1000 900.