A ‘significant number’ of computers have been seized after police raided homes in Somerset as part of an operation to target people carrying out online child abuse.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary officers carried out raids at homes in Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire after officers were tipped off that devices at the addresses may have been used to download or share indecent images of children or in connection with grooming offences.
The searches led to a substantial amount of digital equipment being seized.
Experts from the force’s digital forensic unit will now examine the equipment to determine what offences may have been committed.
Detective Inspector Steve Cartlidge, from the internet child abuse team, said: “Our aim is to protect children and our message to anyone involved in online child abuse is that we are actively looking for you and we will come after you.
“Officers from our internet child abuse team, operational support department, digital investigations team and digital forensic unit last week intensified our activity to find those involved in such criminality.
“We will have to wait for the seized equipment to be forensically examined first before any action is taken against any individual but I am confident the action we took last week has made our communities safer.
“We’ve also worked closely with our local authority partners to assess whether there are any safeguarding concerns in relation to the addresses searched.”
He added: “If any member of the public has concerns about online grooming or abuse, they should report them to us via 101, to CEOP at www.ceop.police.uk, or to Crimestoppers. If you think a child is at immediate risk of harm call 999.
“We are committed to tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse in all its forms but it can take us some time to develop the intelligence we receive and people shouldn’t assume that because they don’t see immediate results, that it isn’t being acted upon.”