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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 March, 2004, 07:59 GMT
Child porn crackdown nets results
Man working on computer
Police have investigated 6,500 people
A police operation to crack down on internet paedophiles has led to more than 1,200 arrests and 655 convictions, the government has said.

The figures came in a written reply to the House of Lords from Home Office minister Baroness Scotland of Asthal.

Police have been investigating 6,500 British people suspected of using a paedophile website in the US, as part of Operation Ore.

Suspects have been prioritised, and more could still be prosecuted.

Some 1,202 people have been charged with child pornography offences as a result of the operation, said Baroness Scotland.

The internet... has provided a valuable opportunity to identify, prosecute and treat a significant group of child abusers who might never otherwise come to our attention
Baroness Scotland

It was launched after the FBI handed UK police details of 7,200 British suspects.

The arrest of a computer consultant in Texas led to the international investigation.

Thomas Reedy was jailed in 2001 for running a massive child internet porn ring.

Credit card details used to access material gave police direct leads on 250,000 people worldwide.

Three categories

They included Who guitarist Pete Townshend, who insisted he was merely researching the subject.

He was arrested in January 2003, cautioned and had his name put on the sex offenders' register after he admitted accessing child porn.

Of the details given to UK police some were duplicated and others had died or fled the country - reducing the number to investigate to 6,500.

Police working on the cases put them into three categories, according to priority, Baroness Scotland said.

The top category - with about 1,200 names - included convicted paedophiles and those with access to children, such as teachers and social workers.

The second covered those in positions of authority like police and magistrates and the third was for suspects not involved with children.

Baroness Scotland added: "Whilst the internet has increased the transmission and exchange of images of child abuse, it has also provided a valuable opportunity to identify, prosecute and treat a significant group of child abusers who might never otherwise come to our attention."




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