Published Thursday, 17 July 2014
Searches were carried out and arrests made in Northern Ireland. (© UTV)
The issue was raised a day after it was confirmed that 660 suspected paedophiles had been arrested across the UK, as part of an ongoing operation led by the National Crime Agency.
The figure included 14 arrests made by the PSNI in Northern Ireland, where the NCA cannot take the lead in operations.
The 660 arrests included doctors, teachers, scout leaders, care workers and former police officers.
On Thursday, Home Secretary Theresa May faced an urgent question on the issue in the Commons.
Her Labour shadow Yvette Cooper asked: "Can you confirm that the National Crime Agency has identified over 10,000 suspects as part of their investigation?
"What is happening to those 10,000 suspects now? Is it true that the police have decided they don't have the capacity to pursue them?
"How many of them do you think pose a direct risk to children?"
People will be deeply shocked by the scale of this new crime that is growing with the internet.
Yvette Cooper, Labour
The Home Secretary was further asked to urgently review the policies and resources available to the Government to tackle child abuse, particularly in an online environment and to put an urgent action plan in place by September.
Theresa May insisted that necessary resources, including experts from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (Ceop), were being made available to police.
"I'm not in the position to be able to indicate anything in relation to how many suspects they might be looking at the moment, or the action they might be taking against those suspects," she said.
"Those are operational matters for the National Crime Agency - decisions to be taken by the National Crime Agency in consideration with the various police forces that are involved.
"I can assure MPs that this is an investigation that is ongoing."
Labour MP and Home Affairs Select Committee chair Keith Vaz also called for the Home Secretary to encourage internet providers to do more to bring online offenders to justice.
"The public needs to be reassured that these websites are being closed," he said.
There's no doubt there will be more children out there. On a daily basis we scratch the surface - the internet has globalised offending of this nature across the world.
Superintendent Rachel Shields, PSNI
Theresa May said work with the IT industry was ongoing.
"It is important that we ensure that industry is able to undertake the task we wish them to do," she said.
"They are doing that, but we want to work further with them to make sure we are getting the blockages and the filtering absolutely right so we can have the maximum impact."
Following the 14 arrests in Northern Ireland, the PSNI confirmed that 15 searches had been carried out as part of the UK-wide investigation.
PSNI Superintendent Rachel Shields would not elaborate on the identity of those detained, but said: "Every profession, every gender, every culture - nobody is immune from this.
"It's important not to be complacent as to the type of person who could potentially be viewing these images on the internet."
© UTV News