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Over 60 child porn arrests in Norfolk and Suffolk as part of national crackdown

PUBLISHED: 08:56 12 December 2015 | UPDATED: 19:02 13 December 2015

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

Chief Constable Simon Bailey at Norfolk Constabulary Headquarters, Wymondham. Photo : Steve Adams

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

More than 60 people have been arrested in Norfolk and Suffolk as part of a nationwide crackdown on internet child abuse images.

A total of 682 people have been held around the country in the last nine months, including 104 – around one in seven – who held “positions of trust” such as teachers, medical staff and law enforcement officials.

All have been detained on suspicion of accessing indecent images of children online in co-ordinated activity by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and 40 police forces.

It was revealed yesterday that 36 of the arrests were in Norfolk, including seven in positions of trust. One was a registered sex offender.

Seven children have been safeguarded in the county as part of the operation.

In Suffolk there were 25 arrests from 21 warrants, with two of those arrested in positions of trust.

Eight children in the county have been safeguarded.

No further details on those arrested have been revealed.

As the details emerged, Norfolk’s chief constable Simon Bailey, who is lead for child protection at the National Police Chiefs’ Council, suggested that the scale of abuse being carried out is rising.

A string of high-profile historic paedophile allegations have emerged in recent years in the wake of revelations about the late Jimmy Savile’s prolific offending and statistics have revealed that rapidly increasing numbers of sexual offences are being reported to police.

Mr Bailey said: “There can be little doubt in my mind that victims’ confidence, society’s confidence in the ability of the police service to respond to the threat, has been significantly improved and enhanced since the horrors of Jimmy Savile back in 2012. But we now have to ask ourselves, is it simply a case of greater confidence of victims coming forward or is more abuse simply now being perpetrated?”

He added: “Do I professionally think that more abuse is being perpetrated? Yes.

“Have I got the evidence to support that at this moment in time? No.

“Am I going to try to find it? Yes, I am.”

Statistics on the activity published by the NCA reveal that those arrested who held positions of trust include 32 in teaching and education, 23 in medical or care work, 15 in law enforcement, criminal justice, armed forces or government roles and 24 in voluntary positions.

There were 46 registered sex offenders among all of those arrested but Mr Bailey said 93% were not previously known to law enforcement agencies in relation to child abuse.

He said: “If we hadn’t gone out looking for them as we have done, they would have remained under the radar and the nearly 400 children we’ve safeguarded since then would still be at risk.

“Today’s results demonstrate a new level of intent to stop offenders viewing indecent images and abusing children, and a new sophistication in our tactics.

“These operations are directed at those involved in the vile industry built around indecent images of children but this is part of a wider change in approach for the police service.”

Investigators are seizing huge volumes of material.

“That routinely can be hundreds of thousands of images and hours and hours and hours of video recordings,” Mr Bailey added. “There can be absolutely no doubt that technology is being used in a way now that it was never, ever intended to be used. We are faced with a really, really significant challenge.”

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