'10,000 suspects' in paedophile inquiry

Published Thursday, 17 July 2014
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Concerns have been raised in the House of Commons over reports that 10,000 suspects were identified during a UK-wide investigation into paedophilia - and that police may not have the capacity to deal with the full-scale of the problem.

'10,000 suspects' in paedophile inquiry
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
Comments Comments
5 Comments
Michael in Templepatrick wrote (34 days ago):
What has gone wrong with society?
Caolan in Belfast wrote (35 days ago):
So does that mean that the NCA and PSNI had evidence on 10,000 supsects, and dod not have the capacity to pursue, or that there was not enough evidence on 9,340 suspects? Obviously too early to tell information like that to the public. I hope this strikes fear into those who wish to do this sort of dispicable thing. I wonder to the extent at which these people have offended? Everyone needs to do their bit in reporting suspicious stuff to police. Its simple. If you see something suspicious online, teen a screenshot by pressing Scrn Prnt button on your keyboard, open Paint, press Paste, save the image, and email it to your local police force who will forward it to the NCA. Ensure to have the website URL displayed in the screenshot. If you do not have your local police force's email, a quick Google search will inform you.
Wilma in Belfast wrote (35 days ago):
good job to the pnsi keep up the good work keeping these scumbags away from our children this is scary times for our kids everyone needs to keep an eye on social networks and who is in contact with our kids this must stop I'm truly worried about the scale of this is there gonna be anyone you can trust such a sad plant we live in now
Taxi Paul in Belfast wrote (36 days ago):
"police may not have the capacity to deal with the full-scale of the problem" I have a solution. Stop with the irrational and prejudice attacks on cannabis and legalise it. The extra resources then available to the police can be used to tackle real crimes, WITH REAL VICTIMS, like these. It is not just the weed users who suffer because of the establishments persecution of cannabis, it is everyone.
bigmac in Belfast wrote (36 days ago):
Did the FBI not send a file about 30 odd years ago about this and the Uk closed their rank on it.
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