MORE than 10 arrests and dozens of children protected were just some of the headlines from a week-long operation aimed at tackling online child abuse.
The operation – codenamed Operation Symphony – ran last week and was aimed at taking action against individuals identified as being involved in child abuse online.
Over the course of the week we arrested 12 people on suspicion of possession and distribution of indecent images, safeguarded more than 30 children and carried out 11 education visits.
Lancashire Constabulary’s Online Child Abuse Investigation Team (OCAIT) is a specialist team of detectives and staff who work around the clock to keep children safe. In the last twelve months, they have investigated over 500 crimes and safeguarded more than 700 children and they vow to continue to help keep the online world a safer space.
Det Sgt Rachel Hill, of OCAIT, said:” Referrals in relation to online child abuse continue to increase year on year and Op Symphony is part of our commitment to leave no stone unturned when it comes to investigating each case.
“Online child abuse can be perpetrated in many ways. This can be from children sending indecent photographs of themselves to one another, to individuals who have a specific sexual attraction to children and would seek to harm a child. It is for this reason that each case needs to be treated differently. The former of these may require education to prevent children from becoming exploited. Often, children are unknowingly breaking the law by sharing indecent images of themselves.’
‘Some individuals within society are a danger to children and therefore we and our partners will utilise all our powers to identify, investigate and prosecute offenders and seek to safeguard their victims.
Protecting children is our top priority and something that each member of the team is absolutely passionate about. Each time an offender views or distributes an image of child sexual abuse, that child is victimised once again.’
Lancashire Constabulary is working closely with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, the UK charity which works to prevent abuse from happening in the first place – and to prevent it from happening again if it already has. They provide a free helpline (0800 1000 900) for offenders and their families, helping offenders to stop offending and helping family members to spot the signs and seek advice. They also provide advice and self-help resources through Stop It Now! , a website for adults who are concerned about their own online activity and people who feel they potentially could pose a sexual risk to children so that they can get help before they potentially harm a child. It also encourages people who are concerned about the viewing habits of someone they know to report it to the police.
Anyone with concerns about the online behaviour of someone they know can pass information on to us online www.doitonline.lancashire.police.uk or by calling 101. You can also give information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.