Police rescue 200 children from exploitation
PUBLISHED: 14:45 09 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:10 09 July 2019
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More than 200 children were rescued from physical and psychological harm by Essex Police last year.
The Essex Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) have revealed that 210 children were safeguarded over the last 12 months after being exposed to exploitative treatment at the hands of adults suspected of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children,
"Accessing and searching for indecent images breeds an illegal market which results in more and more children being victimised and re-victimised," said POLIT DI Jo Collins.
"Our ultimate aim is to identify and locate child victims, make their suffering stop and bring the offender to justice."
DI Collins leads a number of detectives and support officers who use advances in technology to actively seek out offenders accessing indecent images.
Between June 2018 and the end of May this year, POLIT cracked down on perpetrators with 204 search warrants and 84 arrests, seizing of more than 1,400 computers, mobile phones and storage devices.
The children were safeguarded by POLIT officers alongside Local Authority Designated Officers.
DI Collins added: "One of my sergeants has been in policing for 19 years. Many of those years have been spent investigating some of the most distressing crimes against children.
"He is often asked what keeps him going. His response is that he and his colleagues have absolute faith that they are making a big difference to the safety of children across Essex and beyond.
"That knowledge doesn't just keep them going but drives them to work with partners to catch as many offenders as possible."
Taking, viewing and/or distributing indecent images of anyone under the age of 18 is a crime.
Offenders risk a criminal conviction, prison sentence and being put on the Sex Offenders' Register.
DI Collins said: "Many children suffer physical and psychological harm from the abuse they have suffered and our intervention is often the first help and support they will have had."Police say anyone concerned about their online activity, or that of a friend or relative, can seek help from The Lucy Faithfull Foundation or StopSo.
Both are charities that work with people at risk of committing harmful sexual behaviour.
Parents and carers with concerns about the online activity of a young person, can find advice here and report concerns here