Special taskforce arrests 39 for online child sexual abuse offences

A new taskforce set up to tackle online child sexual abuse has made 39 arrests in its first four weeks of operation.

Nov 11, 2020
By Paul Jacques
Assistant Chief Constable Judi Heaton

All of those arrested were men ranging in age from 15 to 76 years old.

Police Scotland said dozens of children were also identified as being at risk or potentially at risk and have now been protected.

Of the 39 arrests made since September 1, 37 resulted in the recovery of material relating to online child sexual abuse and exploitation.

Police Scotland recorded 1,036 online child sexual abuse crimes between April and September – an increase of 18.4 per cent on the previous year and 35.8 per cent above the five-year mean.

Assistant Chief Constable Judi Heaton, Police Scotland’s lead for Major Crime, Public Protection and Local Crime, said: “Recorded crimes for online offending have risen substantially in line with our determined and recent proactive work to uncover this hidden criminality.

“Online offenders may think they are anonymous, and they may not comprehend the terrible, devastating and lifelong impact their actions have on children. But there is no excuse for their actions. Online images of child abuse and exploitation are not virtual, they show the very real abuse of a real child.”

She added: “We are determined to improve our response, invest in resources and latest technologies, to track down predators and abusers, and to make sure they face the full consequences of their actions.”

Ms Heaton said tackling online child sexual abuse requires a cross-partnership effort, “not only through enforcement but also on deterrence by means of offender programmes”.

She said they were also working with the National Police Chiefs’ Council on ways to prevent this criminality on a larger scale.

From next week Police Scotland will run the next phase of its online child sexual abuse campaign #GetHelpOrGetCaught, which signposts offenders or potential offenders to Stop It Now!Scotland for help to stop or prevent offending.

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