Suspected paedophiles have been arrested by Lancashire police after they supported a national operation targeting people accessing indecent images of children online.
The operation was coordinated by the National Crime Agency. They developed and disseminated intelligence packages about suspected offenders and passed those to forces across the UK.
So far in Lancashire over the last six months the force has arrested 16 people on suspicion of possessing or distribution of indecent photographs of children. They have been bailed pending further enquiries.
A 58-year-old man from Parbold, a 46 year-old-man from Skelmersdale and a 59-year-old man from Skelmersdale are among those arrested.
Lancashire Constabulary has already invested significant resources into this crime area and a number of other packages sent from the NCA had already been dealt with as a result of work already on-going by the Constabulary.
Nationally the operation has seen 431 children safeguarded, 660 people arrested, 9172 devices seized and searched 833 properties searched.
The operation has stayed covert until today in order to protect children, identify offenders and secure evidence. Law enforcement agencies are not revealing the methods they used to track down suspects so that they can use the same tactics again in the future.
Detective Chief Inspector Claire McEnery, from Lancashire Constabulary’s Public Protection Unit, said: “Tackling child sexual exploitation is a priority for Lancashire Constabulary and we are absolutely committed to preventing child sexual abuse, helping victims and bringing offenders to justice.
“While the force was recognised in a recent Home Affairs Select Committee Report as leading the way in innovative ways to tackle CSE, we are not complacent and we will continue to work with our partners to protect children and target offenders.
“We are determined to stop children being abused and exploited; to prevent harm to those being abused, to help them stay safe online, and to get out of the exploitative relationship they are in; to bring to justice to all those who commit such abhorrent crimes and to ensure that the public are confident to come forward when they require our help.
“Here in Lancashire we have dedicated resources to address the online abuse of children and will continue to use a range of investigative techniques to target those engaged in such activity. Those people should know that we will find them, arrest them and put them before the courts
“The public quite rightly expects us to protect children from being exploited and that is exactly what we will continue to deliver.”