Wednesday, October 19, 2005

20 ARRESTED AFTER CHILD PORN SWOOP

October 18, 2005 12:00am
Source: South Wales Echo

Twenty suspected paedophiles have been arrested in South Wales Police's biggest ever crackdown on internet child porn.

Thirty-three dawn raids have been carried out throughout the region over the past four days on homes and workplaces of suspected offenders as part of Operation Blaze.

Officers have confiscated 2,327 DVDs and CD-Roms, 822 videos, and more than 100 computers containing illegal material.

Lead officer Detective Superintendent Simon Clarke said the aim had been to protect children at risk.

He would not confirm if any victims had been taken into care but said child protection measures were introduced as a result of the investigations.

He said: 'It is not a victimless crime. It is our responsibility to protect children who are being exploited worldwide.

'Without the demand for these images, there would be no victims.'

Some 238 officers took part in the operation from Assistant Chief Constable Giles York to specially trained experts.

And Det Supt Clarke singled out the work of his five-person team, whose job it is to examine the images, for praise. He confirmed many of the videos and stills found were at the worst end of the scale, involving very young children being badly abused.

All officers who deal with the material will have counselling.

Of the 20 arrests, eight were in Cardiff, three in Bridgend, one in Rhondda Cynon Taf, the others in Neath and Swansea.

All the suspects, who are men and women aged from teenagers to pensioners, are either still in custody or have been bailed and will not come to court for several months.

Police were led to them from information collected around the world, including some that was worked on for two years.

The South Wales operations have put officers in contact with police in Latvia and Estonia where some of the child abuse may have happened.

GATHERING EVIDENCE: The officer leading the unit which must examine the hundreds of images seized spoke of the difficulties facing his five-person team.

Detective Sergeant Steve Harrod said: 'It is certainly not something that you can talk about with your family.

'My staff have all received counselling every six months because of the images that we look at.

'We see thousands - some of young babies to teenage children who have been subjected to terrible abuse.

'We are all experienced officers and all have a lot of years in the force.

'We do it as a job that has to be done in order to gather the evidence.

'You cope by talking to each other.

'We are a small unit with one sergeant and four officers and we can share with each other.' PERVERTS ROAM WEB: Detective Superintendent Simon Clarke urged parents to know what sites their children were visiting on the internet.

Det Supt Clarke said perverts roamed the web posing as children and preyed on vulnerable youngsters in chat sites.

He urged parents to make sure they monitored their youngsters' computer use and contacted the police if they had any worries.

Police have set up an international website to tackle child pornography that co-ordinates information across the world.

Any worried parents can visit the website www. virtualglobaltaskforce.com.

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