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Thursday, 6 June, 2002, 11:53 GMT 12:53 UK
The hunt for Britain's paedophiles
The producer of a controversial new series investigating paedophilia in Britain has defended the project.

Executive producer Bob Long and his team spent two years filming with police officers as they infiltrated child abuse networks.

The result is a truly harrowing glimpse of the horrifying crimes perpetrated by some of Britain's estimated quarter of a million paedophiles.

One of the paedophiles interviewed on camera later killed himself unable to cope with the prospect of a long prison sentence.


A lot of young children are being very seriously sexually abused,

Executive Producer, Bob Long

And many of the production team needed counselling after their exposure to the horrors witnessed daily by the police team.

Horrific cases

But Bob Long has no regrets about embarking on such an emotionally draining and shocking enterprise.

He explained: "A lot of young children are being very seriously sexually abused, including babies.

"It's a subject that people don't talk about. The press handle it more than television does. But when they do, it's one of two things.

"They either cover horrific cases like the Sarah Payne abduction or murder, which is thankfully rare.

"Or there's the name and shame aspect which is a bit of a distraction because people think the 20 or 30 people they photograph sum up the problem.

Operation Doorknock

Convicted paedophile, Julian Levene
Paedophile Julian Levene
"But the lowest estimate I had from the police was 230,000 and I think the series will get that across."

The three-part series which starts on Thursday at 2100BST on BBC Two focuses on the biggest ever seizure of child pornography in Britain.

Operation Doorknock led to the uncovering of a sinister paedophile ring which has been operating for 30 years and sexually abusing hundreds of children.

The series follows the police as they trace dozens of witnesses and go to court armed with 30,000 exhibits.

Four men were eventually brought to justice including 54 year old Julian Levene who wrote a sheet of tips for other paedophiles.

Long said: "Hopefully it will get paedophilia onto the political agenda - it's an under -resourced area of police work and not enough is done to treat culprits.

No stereotype

"Long sentences may keep these people off the street, but ultimately they don't work because a lot of them still don't get treatment. They often come out and do it again."

One of the issues raised by the programme is the use of the internet, which Long claims, "creates paedophiles".

He explained: "You get a guy surfing the net and perhaps looking at adult pornography. At the edges are all the other types of pornography.

"He then starts looking at child pornography, he becomes obsessed and then starts getting actively involved."

Long says working on the series dispelled any notion he and the team had of "a stereotypical paedophile".

He said; "One of the paedophiles we spoke to was 29, had a lovely girlfriend, lots of friends and was very, very sociable.

"During his police interview, he admitted that he was drawn into paedophilia by looking at it on the internet.


One of the interesting things about them is that they are nice men

Bob Long
"The internet needs policing - these sites are so easy to find and very easy to get into.

"Why are they there? Why are they allowed to be there?

"If this series achieves anything, I hope it will be the better policing of these sites."

"Nice men"

Long admits that he and team found it impossible to remain detached during filming and some of the team, including Long himself, took up the offer of counselling .

He explained: "You can't keep your emotions out of it. Sometimes we spent the whole day with paedophiles.

"One of the interesting things about them is that they are nice men - that is how they are able to operate."

One abuser, who agreed to an on-camera interview was lifelong paedophile, 41-year-old Mark Hanson.

Long said: "Hanson was very eager to please - he was a sweet guy. Then next day we'd see what had been seized from his home including graphic images of him raping a six year old boy."

Hanson was arrested, but later killed himself unable to face the prospect of another lengthy prison sentence.

Long said: "We were shocked, but that feeling subsided when one of the officers took us to one side afterwards and told us afterwards what he'd done."

He added: "The shame of the series is we had to pixellate the images of the paedophiles. Paedophiles say that children like it.

"But if you saw their faces - the pain, the horror and the fear - you would never accept that argument."

The Hunt for Britain's Paedophiles, Thursday, BBC Two 2100BST.

See also:

18 Mar 02 | England
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