THE net is closing on paedophiles using the internet say Sussex Police.
Last week officers from the Paedophile On-Line Investigation Team executed a search warrant at an address in Bexhill as part of a county-wide crackdown.
They arrested the 43-year old man who lives at the address on suspicion of distribution of indecent images of children and seized computer equipment.
The man was later released on conditional police bail until 12 December while enquiries continue, including forensic examination of computer material.
Sussex officers were supported by officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency are investigating intelligence that idcenent images of children have been exchanged via email with people in the United States.
There are no allegations of any actual contact offending at at this time, although the computer material has yet to be fully examined, no evidence that any of the images are of local children.
The operation supported a nationwide initiative aimed at cracking down on Internet child abuse, and co-ordinated by the Child Exploitation On-Line Protection Centre.
But it is only the latest example of the work of the Sussex POLIT which was first established in July 2008. It acts as the specific point of contact for all suspected paedophile on-line offences in the county.
The team consists of eight detectives who progress the intelligence and execute the warrants against suspected offenders. Much of the intelligence comes from CEOP and law enforcement agencies world-wide, but they also receive information from other forces and agencies in the UK, and from local people.
Detective Superintendent Nev Kemp said; “This area of policing is particularly difficult not only due to the nature of the images officers have to view, but also to the devious electronic methods the criminals use to try to conceal their offending across the web.
“Since its creation the team has dealt with over 400 cases. On average we have at any one time around 60 active cases, 40 suspects on bail or charged, and 20 initial referrals under intelligence progression prior to any arrest.
“We have viewed and removed from circulation millions of images, all deeply offensive and insulting to children, and many of them of the most sickening type.
“In doing this we have helped the world-wide fight against this evil trade, and have also helped safeguard thousands of children not only in Sussex but worldwide. Most of the offenders circulate and re-circulate images they have found elsewhere, and we must never forget that every such image is by definition an image of a child being abused and its very existence helps fuel the demand. In addition some others have also committed specific offences against children themselves, either by inciting them to commit indecent acts on-line or by direct physical contact.
“This is a continual battle against the abusers but it is also an area of policing where there is now a really close co-operation with law enforcement across the country and across the world. Given that increasing level of co-operation, and with public support and information, we are confident that we can continue to make inroads on the problem. Offenders need to know that we will continue to target them and they can expect a knock on the door at any time.
“Anyone who has suspicions or concerns about anyone they feel may be engaging in this or any other type of sexual offence against children can contact police via 101 at any time, and all reports will be taken seriously.”