Suffolk and Norfolk police make more than 200 arrests during crackdown on online child exploitation
- Credit: PA
More than 60 children across the region have been protected from harm thanks to a crackdown on cyber-crime, police have claimed.
Operation Bane, a proactive investigation to tackle online child exploitation, was launched by Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies in 2014.
As part of this probe, officers have made more than 200 arrests resulting in a number of successful convictions.
One man in his 30s was jailed for 12 years in July 2015 for the rape of a girl after indecent images of children were downloaded at his Suffolk address.
The team work closely with the National Crime Agency but are not reliant on referrals, instead using specialist techniques to track down criminals who use the internet to exploit children.
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore said officers utilised the new cyber-crime unit, based in Halesworth, during this operation.
He added: “I find it desperately sad that children in our county are exploited in this terrible, terrible way, it is beyond my comprehension.
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“The pattern of crime is changing in Suffolk and one of the biggest changes is the huge increase of cyber and cyber-enabled crime.
“This growing technological menace is a scourge in our society so I was delighted to support this extra investment in a dedicated cyber-crime unit for the county, which I understand is one of the best in the country.”
Detective Superintendent Steve Mattin, of the joint Norfolk and Suffolk cyber-crime unit, said: “Police services across the UK are dealing with an unprecedented volume of child sexual abuse reports, including online indecent images and these numbers continue to rise.
“Indecent images of children can only be created if a child is subject to sexual abuse. Often offenders convince themselves that as the images already exist there isn’t a victim as they don’t have direct contact with the children or young people involved. But these children were abused and exploited to make these images and are further victimised every time those images are viewed.”
Norfolk and Suffolk constabularies also teamed up with four other police forces in the East of England earlier this year to start Operation NetSafe, which works in partnership with a charity to beat online child sexual abuse.