BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 17 December, 2002, 13:57 GMT
Police held in net paedophile inquiry
Internet 'paedophile'
More than 7,000 suspects in the UK were identified
Fifty police officers have been arrested as part of an investigation into internet paedophiles.

They were among 7,000 British suspects identified by a US inquiry into users of child pornography sites.

The officers were targeted as part of a group of suspects whose jobs gave them special privileges or access to children.

On Tuesday, more than 250 police working on the UK investigation - called Operation Ore - executed 45 search warrants and arrested 34 men in the London area.
The forensic analysis of the hard drives can take up to 15 hours per machine

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble

In total, more than 1,300 homes have been searched, a large number of computers seized and many arrests made since details of British suspects were passed on by US detectives in May of this year.

Child protection charity the NSPCC, whose officers are involved in Operation Ore, said: "Behind these indecent, abusive images are real children who will have suffered immense damage and trauma."

Further raids

Tuesday's raids began at 0530 GMT and were the most extensive carried out by the Metropolitan Police as part of its child protection work.

It said in a statement: "A large amount of computer equipment and other evidence was seized which will be examined in due course."

Assistant Chief Constable Jim Gamble of the National Crime Squad said further raids could be expected across the country as other paedophiles were targeted.

Commenting on the decision to prioritise some suspects he said: "We have looked at those individuals who because of their occupation have special access or special trust with children."

Of the police officers arrested, eight have been charged and the remainder have been given bail while the investigation continues.

People who have previously been arrested for offences involving child abuse were also targeted.

'Live investigation'

In London alone at least 28 children have now been identified by the Met, which is dealing with 1,100 suspects.

Internet user
Detectives were shocked by the number of white collar suspects
Mr Gamble said Operation Ore was a "very very live investigation", but that the work involved would take time to complete because of its complex nature.

He said: "We're talking about a particularly sophisticated type of evidential search that's required.

"The forensic analysis of the hard drives can take up to 15 hours per machine."

The work was made even more difficult as raids on suspects' homes often uncovered two or more computers, Mr Gamble added.

Despite the obstacles a number of forces had completed their part of the investigation, including Northumbria, Lincolnshire and Durham.

International collection

Last month officers said their investigation had been hampered by a lack of resources.

They said there was an urgent need to increase the scale of the operation as one in five of those arrested was thought to be involved in real child abuse.

The British suspects were identified by US detectives working on the biggest ever investigation into internet paedophiles.

They used credit card details to identify 250,000 suspects in more than 60 countries after tracking them through the Landslide website - a gateway to an international collection of child pornography sites.

Thomas Reedy, who ran the website and made millions from it, is now serving a sentence of 1,335 years in the US.

British officers were shocked to discover that most of those arrested were professional people with no previous police record.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Margaret Gilmore
"More raids are expected across the UK in the coming months"
Asst. Chief Constable Jim Gamble, Nat. Crime Squad
"Anyone used to the internet will understand the difficulty of tying an e-mail account to a person"
Colin Turner, NSPCC head of investigations
"Unfortunately this is something that we have to accept as a real problem and challenge"
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more UK stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more UK stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes