“PREDATORS who prey on the vulnerable need to be brought to justice.”
Those are the words of a top policeman who is leading Dorset’s crackdown on internet paedophiles.
Acting Detective Superintendent and Director of Public Protection Chris Naughton, who is heading up the newly-formed Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT), said there will be “zero tolerance” for criminals using the internet to participate in child abuse.
The unit, which draws in specialist officers from across the force, has already put one offender behind bars.
Mark Luscombe, 29, of Verwood, was sentenced to five years in prison in January for sexual offences against children.
Since the POLIT launched in November last year, there have been 37 crime referrals, and six people have been charged with sex offences.
Det Supt Naughton said: “There are three strands that we are keen to reinforce.
“The first is that of internet safety. This is where it all begins, and where paedophiles can find their young victims.
“The internet is an absolutely wonderful resource and people should be able to enjoy it. But awareness of what goes on online is vital. There are people out there who want to groom and sexually exploit children, and the message here is simply do not let them have that opportunity.
“The second message is to those who download images of children online. There are many who can’t connect what they are doing with abuse but by accessing that image of a child being abused, tortured or raped, the offender is revictimising that youngster.
“If you download images, we will find you and we will bring you to justice. We’d also like to tell anyone who has sexual urges towards children to get help now. Get control of the situation before it becomes too late.”
Officers drawn into POLIT work exclusively for the unit, and Det Supt Naughton admitted they face the darkest corners of the internet each and every day.
All have mandatory health monitoring sessions to help them cope, but the policeman said that it is “the most rewarding line of police work when a dangerous offender is prosecuted.”
“This is a priority for Dorset Police and it is very important to each and every one of the officers who work in the team,” he added. “We are all dedicated to tackling this menace.”
Growing threat from 'hidden' web
A ‘HIDDEN’ internet used by criminals to access live online child abuse will become a growing threat over the next three years.
The first nationwide assessment by the National Crime Agency (NCA) found that paedophiles will increasingly use the ‘hidden web’ – internet content that is not accessed by popular search engines – to access images of child abuse.
The report said: “The online streaming of real-time child sexual exploitation and abuse is a growing threat.
“Cyber techniques have proliferated and are used ever more extensively by wider serious and organised crime groups to commit ‘traditional’ crimes.”
The head of professional practice at the College of Policing, Giles Herdale, said 6,000 detectives would be trained this year specifically in tackling online crime.
He added: “The National Crime Agency’s report shows that as the internet has changed how many people communicate, organise and trade, it has also brought criminals new opportunities.
“The speed at which these changes have taken place has challenged the police service to ensure that our officers and staff are equipped with the right skills to tackle crime.
“The College of Policing is taking steps so that knowledge around cybercrime is seen not as a specialism in policing but as a core part of any investigator’s knowledge.”
And Dorset Police is keeping up with constantly evolving technology to tackle paedophiles, with social media sites such as Facebook, as well as chatrooms and Skype, often used by offenders.
“This wonderful new age of technology does have a dark side,” said Det Supt Naughton.
“That’s why we’re here. We want to pull the veil back and expose those who operate in the shadows.”
The officer was unable to reveal tactics for dealing with the hidden internet, but said: “We are keeping up with those who use technology to abuse children.”
World wide web content that is not part of the ‘surface web’ – also known as ‘deep web’ – can only be accessed using dedicated software.
The term refers to a collection of all websites and databases that search engines like Google don’t or can’t index, which is many times larger than the web as we know it in terms of volume of information.
Here are two examples of perverts who used the internet to view indecent images of children.
The cases came before the courts last year just before the POLIT was launched by Dorset Police.
A FORMER Weymouth teacher found with thousands of indecent images of children on his computer was jailed for 16 months last November after what a judge described as his ‘dreadful and dark secret’ was exposed.
Roger Bailey, 44, had admitted 21 offences of making indecent images of children and three charges of possessing extreme pornographic images.
Police attended his address on Portland after receiving information from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP).
A search of a laptop computer and two external hard drives revealed thousands of indecent images.
A child’s mannequin dressed in school uniform was also seized.
The charges Bailey, pictured left, faced related to 53,908 level one images, 547 at level two, 1,149 grade three images, 1,302 at level four and 168 grade five images, the most serious.
At the time of the police search, Bailey was working as a teacher at the Wey Valley School.
Judge Roger Jarvis told him during sentencing: “Every time you clicked an image to view those indecent images of children you were compliant in a sexual offence being committed against that child.”
A WEST Dorset man was sentenced to 12 months in prison for 19 counts of possessing indecent images of children.
Kevin Cox, 38, of Burton Bradstock, was dealt with by the courts last September.
The images he had were video clips featuring children as young as two.
Analysis of computers found at his home, then in Bridport, revealed 996 video clips and Cox was charged in relation to 100 of them.
Cox, pictured left, had been suffering from depression but could not explain his actions.
Speaking at the sentencing, Judge Roger Jarvis said courts had to do something in a bid to improve the lives of the poor children who were the victims of shocking abuse in the sorts of images involved in the case.
He warned: “If you choose to watch images like this you will go into custody.
“I hope in making that message clear people will think it is not worth the gamble.”