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Tuesday, 27 March, 2001, 12:08 GMT 13:08 UK
Swoop on suspected paedophiles
Greater Manchester Constabulary
Greater Manchester police led the dawn raids
Suspected paedophiles from across the UK and the Irish Republic have been targeted in a series of early morning police raids.

A man working for a national youth organisation, along with a 13-year-old boy who is also being treated as a potential victim, were among those arrested in the operation led by Greater Manchester Police.

Officers targeted the homes of people believed to be using the internet to send and store indecent images of children.

Police from 25 forces executed 43 search warrants simultaneously at 0700BST on Tuesday.

If they think they can hide on the internet, then we are going to shine a beam of light

Assistant Chief Constable Med Hughes
The investigation, known as Operation Appal, followed a three-month investigation by Greater Manchester police's obscene publications unit.

Inspector Terry Jones, who heads the unit, said the operation had been a success.

Feedback from just 21 of the raids indicated that 17 people had been arrested, and a quantity of computer equipment seized.

"Those arrested were mainly adult males," he said.

"We have some interesting professions. We have got one who works in a national youth organisation.

"We also have a disturbing scenario of one or two juveniles who have been caught in this way."

Filtering software

As part of the operation, police accessed chat rooms which they believed were frequented by people possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

They used specific internet filtering software to track computer users.

Assistant Chief Constable Med Hughes said: "What we have done today is send a message to people who use the internet for exchanging indecent images of children.

"We have the tools to monitor their behaviour. We are going to use them and we are going to come after them.

"If they think they can hide on the internet, then we are going to shine a beam of light."

The raids are the latest in a series of crackdowns by police on suspected internet paedophile rings.

Operation Cathedral

Operation Cathedral, an international initiative co-ordinated by the National Crime Squad in London, led to prosecutions last year.

Seven British men who traded child pornographic images - some of babies as young as three months old - were jailed for between 12 and 30 months each.

In a separate case in October Patrick Green, 33, Buckinghamshire, used the internet to entice a 13-year-old girl to his home for sex.

He was jailed for five years.

Police taking part in Operation Appal were from Avon and Somerset, Cheshire, Cleveland, Derbyshire, Dorset, Essex, Greater Manchester, Grampian, Hertfordshire, Humberside, Kent, Leicestershire, Lothian and Borders, Merseyside, Metropolitan Police, Northamptonshire, Northumbria, Northern, South Wales, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, West Mercia, West Midlands, West Yorkshire and Wiltshire.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Stephen Cape
"Computer porn is the fastest growing illegal business on the internet"
Michelle Elliott of the charity Kidscape
"What really worries me is that this is still happening"
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