Cumbria Police’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit conducted four warrants last week, 21 – 25 March, as part of the Stop It Now campaign launched in conjunction with ‘Child Sexual Exploitation’ day.
Detective Inspector Andy Myers of the Cumbria Constabulary Cyber and Digital Crime Unit said: “Our main focus is to protect vulnerable people from harm.
“These warrants are part of the continuing proactive work by the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, who are a dedicated unit staffed with officers trained specifically to deal with online offending and safeguard those who have been exploited.
“The way criminals who look to exploit children and vulnerable people operate, has developed with the continuous advancement in technology, with offenders using online technology to contact and groom their victims into sexual or criminal activity.
“We use specialist equipment to detect digital devices capable of connecting to the internet, within properties, to make it virtually impossible for suspected child sex offenders or convicted sex offenders to hide evidence from the Police.
“I would urge people to familiarise themselves with and to monitor what their children and vulnerable adults are doing online, ask them questions and support them in using the internet positively.”
The Stop It Now social media campaign aims to raise public awareness of the growing problem of people viewing and sharing sexually explicit images of under 18s online.
The campaign also educates those offending about the harm caused to children in the images who are re-victimised each time their image is viewed online.
The warrants conducted last week are a result of intelligence from a number of agencies, police forces and the public.
The intelligence is reviewed and developed by a dedicated unit within the department.
Following this work, search warrants were obtained and executed by specialist detectives.
Warrants were executed in:
A number of digital devices were recovered at the addresses and several individuals are assisting detectives with their enquiries.
A 19-year-old man from Maryport was arrested on suspicion of making indecent images of children. He has been released under investigation.
This Cyber and Digital Crime Unit have executed 26 warrants so far in 2022 with enquires ongoing to conduct more.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, said: “This is a great snapshot of what the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit do year-round to keep vulnerable people and especially children, safe.
“I hope it sends a strong message to anyone who may be tempted to break the law online including viewing illegal images, that they will be pursued by the Police who work collaboratively at both a regional and national level.
“Technology is advancing, and criminals are using it to target the most vulnerable people in our society which is why I funded the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit in Cumbria Constabulary.
“The CDCU do a great job to protect young children and the vulnerable and I would urge anyone who has been a target or may have information around a cyber-related crime to contact the Police at 101 or to Action Fraud 0300 123 2040.
“I would also encourage anyone to visit www.getsafeonline.org to learn more about how to protect yourself online.”
In the last 12 months the Online Abuse investigation team have charged 28 different suspects with 117 child sexual abuse, exploitation offences.