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Global swoop on suspected paedophiles

November 5, 2013 · 

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-86679/Global-swoop-suspected-paedophiles.html

Seven people were arrested in dawn raids in the UK today as part of the world’s largest ever co-ordinated police crackdown on paedophiles, the National Crime Squad (NCS) said.

Police in 19 countries carried out 130 arrest and search warrants in an “unprecedented” operation which targeted Internet users who download and distribute child pornography.

The arrests are the culmination of a 10-month investigation, codenamed Landmark, in which police sifted through data from about 1,500 Internet newsgroups.

More arrests in the UK may follow, an NCS spokeswoman said.

NCS could not say where today’s arrests in the UK were made but the 10 warrants were executed in nine police force areas in England and Scotland.

They were the Metropolitan, Kent, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Wiltshire, Devon and Cornwall, Thames Valley, Humberside and Strathclyde areas.

One person was arrested in London, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Police confirmed.

In Greater Manchester, officers seized a computer and software during a raid on the home of a 53-year-old man. He was not arrested and no further details were being released, a police spokeswoman said.

A spokesman for Devon and Cornwall Police said a search warrant was executed in the Teignbridge area of Devon. One person was arrested and the address was being searched. Computer equipment was seized.

In Merseyside, police were understood to have executed one warrant and seized a computer. Nobody was arrested.

Humberside Police said a 44-year-old man was arrested in Hull and was being questioned at a local police station.

The anti-paedophile operation began when police approached Demon Internet, the Internet Service Provider, which agreed to let them access its servers.

They recovered data showing the activity of 1,500 Internet newsgroups over a two week period. The data revealed that around 10,000 Internet users had accessed more than 30 websites carrying paedophilia.

The huge number meant that for operational reasons the number of suspects was narrowed down to just over 400 people suspected of distributing paedophile images.

Officers established which countries the suspects lived in and police there were alerted through Interpol.

The 19 countries where warrants were executed today were: Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Turkey, the UK and the United States.

A secret summit for police from around the world was held at Interpol headquarters in Lyon and a second meeting for UK police forces was held in London.

Detective Superintendent Peter Spindler, who led the investigation for NCS, said: “It is particularly disturbing that all these newsgroups carrying paedophile images are available to everyone to access – even young children themselves.”

He said that, with the help of Demon Internet and the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, police found that those accessing the newsgroups had done so “regularly and with purpose”.

He added: “We also learned, not surprisingly, that those abusing the Internet have learnt from the recent police successes how best to protect their true identities.

“This operation has sadly and distressingly brought thousands of new images of abuse to our attention.

“These young victims need to be identified and protected as quickly as possible.”

NCS has developed sophisticated facial mapping software which it hopes will help to identify the children in the images, he said.

“We then hope that the database can be used to identify children who are being systematically abused for the gratification of a small but dangerous section of society,” he said.

The operation was understood to have uncovered a total of around 60,000 paedophile images during the two-week period in which the 1,500 newsgroups were monitored.

It is thought the images may have involved thousands of children.

Some of the images are understood to show horrific acts against them.

Newsgroups of the kind analysed by the NCS are hosted by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and they allow people to post information which is then available to any other computer user.

John Carr, Internet consultant for the children’s charity NCH, called for a crackdown on ISPs which allow paedophiles to get hold of such material.

He said: “Almost all of the arrests made today arise from child pornography found in on-line newsgroups.

“It is absolutely disgraceful that some UK Internet Service Providers are still offering easy access to this material.

“We believe that immediate action should be taken to stop this.

“If this situation continues then the companies involved should face criminal investigation.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-86679/Global-swoop-suspected-paedophiles.html#ixzz2jn1Gt64C

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