Norfolk chief constable’s warning to so-called paedophile hunters

Picture posed by a model of a child on a laptop. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Picture posed by a model of a child on a laptop. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Norfolk chief constable's warning to so-called paedophile hunters

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Photo : Steve Adams

Chief Constable Simon Bailey. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Steve Adams

Norfolk's chief constable has issued a warning to so-called paedophile hunters who he said are jeopardising police investigations by 'taking risks they don't understand'.

Self-styled paedophile hunters, who pose as children online to try and catch potential sexual predators, are diverting 'significant resources' according to Simon Bailey, the national policing lead on Child Abuse Investigation.

Mr Bailey said: 'The police rely on the assistance of the public in preventing and detecting crime. Working closely with communities is a vital way in which we gain information, and their active engagement in fighting crime helps us to do our job.

'Cases involving child sex abuse are extremely serious and have a huge emotional impact not only on the victims, but on whole families, and the communities in which they take place. We understand the desire to protect children but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice.

'Revealing the identity of suspected paedophiles gives the suspect the opportunity to destroy evidence before the police can investigate them. It can jeopardise ongoing police investigations and these people have no way of safeguarding child victims. It also leads to people who have been identified going missing or raising concerns for their safety. This can divert significant resources into protecting suspects, which would be better invested in investigating and, where there is evidence, prosecuting them.

'There is also the risk of wrongly accusing someone; if someone is wrongly accused of being a paedophile in a hugely public way that makes people who live with them, live near them, work with them assume they have committed the offence. The temptation to kill themselves may be just as great even if they are innocent; that is an appalling consequence to contemplate.

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'Vigilantes like this should not continue because they are taking risks they don't understand. 'If any member of the public has concerns about online grooming, they should report them to their local police, to CEOP at, or to Crimestoppers. If you think a child is at immediate risk of harm call 999.'

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