London police warn over online child abuse after arrests | #predators | #childpredators | #kids



The Metropolitan Police in London are warning Londoners over the risks of online child abuse after making dozens of arrests linked to the crime earlier this month.

A statement posted by Met Police forces in London urged parents and young people alike to take precautions after a rise in internet use during lockdown, and announced a sweeping move targeting online child abuse.

As part of as part of Operation ‘Legatum’, the Met Police said between March 1 and March 7 their officers executed 64 warrants, made 31 arrests, and safeguarded 68 children.

The operation was led by Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Unit, focuses on identifying and pursuing suspected online offenders.

Detective Superintendent Helen Flanagan, from the Met’s OCSAE Unit, said: “Officers have been continuing to work flat out during lockdown to track down those suspected of harming children and young people online.

“With this in mind I want to continue to encourage parents and young people to take appropriate steps to remain safe online. We know there is an increased threat posed by the growing amount of time spent online during the UK’s lockdown.

“The internet can be a great space for young people to play, socialise and learn, and offers wonderful opportunities. However, it can be used by offenders to prey on young people and commit serious offences.

“The internet can be a great space for young people to play, socialise and learn, and offers wonderful opportunities. However, it can be used by offenders to prey on young people and commit serious offences.

 

Lockdown has led to a significant growth in online use, including by children. Unfortunately, it also means there are a greater number of sexual predators out there trying to target and groom young people.”

 

The Met Police added that online detectives would “now have to examine tens of thousands of child abuse and exploitation images on phones, tablets, and laptops” as part of their investigations.

“Online offenders sometimes try and convince themselves that they’re ‘only looking’ but there is no such thing,” a police spokesperson said.

“Every image is a crime scene, with a real child being abused. Every time offenders look at or share that image they are committing a crime and repeating abuse which devastates lives.”

Donald Findlater, Director of the Stop It Now! helpline, said:

“Tens of thousands of people in the UK are viewing sexual images and videos of children online, and lockdown is likely to have increased that number.

“They aren’t all the stereotypical loners of popular imagination – they are our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues.

“Our confidential helpline and self-help website support thousands of people every month who are worried about their own or a loved one’s online behaviour.

“We’ve seen record numbers contact us during lockdown – people who realise they need help to stop what they or their loved one is doing. People who realise that doing nothing is not an option. You don’t have to face this alone.”

Anyone worried about their own or someone else’s online behaviour can get confidential support from Stop It Now! by calling 0808 1000 900 or visiting their website here.





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