Child porn crackdown nets 30

SUFFOLK police's largest ever operation into people who download child porn from the internet investigated more than 50 suspects, it has been revealed.

By Danielle Nuttall

SUFFOLK police's largest ever operation into people who download child porn from the internet investigated more than 50 suspects, it has been revealed.

Operation Queensbury, which cost £500,000, targeted 56 people alleged to have either downloaded or distributed child porn and resulted in 30 offenders being cautioned or convicted.

The force was handed a list by the National Crime Squad in July 2002 containing more than 60 names of alleged offenders whose credit cards details had been entered on the American Landslide website, which provided access to indecent images of children.


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The website was subjected to a massive investigation by the FBI and resulted in details of subscribers being handed to police forces across the world.

The British side of the probe – code-named Operation Ore – investigated 7,200 people.

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At the height of Suffolk's investigation, which ran under the name Operation Queensbury, a total of 20 officers were involved.

Police seized more than 600 videos from one convicted offender and recovered 40,000 indecent images of children from another.

Special counselling was given to enable officers to deal with the horrific material that had to be viewed.

Of those investigated, 14 did not have any police action taken against them, and all those convicted or cautioned were forced to sign the sex offenders' register for a minimum of five years.

Sentences ranged from a caution to two years in prison, with the maximum fine being imposed being £2,500.

Thousands of pounds worth of computer equipment was seized during the operation, which filled several large rooms. It was later destroyed.

The operation, which is now drawing to a conclusion, has led Suffolk police to establish a dedicated unit to deal with child porn suspects, with eight full-time staff including officers and technical experts.

Det Supt Paul Marshall, who led the inquiry, said: "It was the largest operation of its kind in Suffolk.

"The first task was to prioritise and arrest those who through their employment came into contact with either children or vulnerable people.

"Fourteen people were prioritised from the list and were arrested in the first phase which commenced in November 2002 and took about three months.

"My investigation team spent hundreds of hours viewing computer images and movies of explicit indecency with children and sometimes of the most horrific nature.

"Many of the officers that worked on the investigation have children of their own and were clearly affected by what they saw and it's to their credit they accepted this task in a professional manner regardless of the unpleasant nature of the work."

Two lawyers from Suffolk's Crown Prosecution Service were brought on board to advise police of charges and also to present each case as it came to court.

Chief Prosecutor Chris Yule said: "Not only has this further developed the close working relationship between police and prosecutors but the police and ourselves have ensured that the quality of the case preparation has been thorough and specific to this unique and serious type of crime."

In cases in which a person on the list had moved to another area, police passed on the information to the relevant force.

Many of the offenders had gone to great lengths to delete information from their hard drives – however specialists working in Suffolk's High Tech Crime Unit quickly developed expertise needed to recover the evidence needed for prosecution.

Det Supt Marshall said police now had the skills to track anyone who viewed child porn on the internet, regardless of whether they enter their credit cards or not.

"Offenders are creating a market for the abusers. The only way we can stop the abuse occurring in the first place is to target all those involved along the chain."

Anyone with information regarding anyone suspected of viewing child porn on the internet should contact Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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