Police find 30 million images of child abuse in major anti-paedophile operation
Martin Evans, Crime Correspondent 29 July 2016 • 2:08pm
Police in Scotland have recovered more than 30 million images of child sex abuse and have identified more than 500 victims, officers have announced.
In the first major operation of its kind in Scotland, detectives arrested 77 people on suspicion of a range of offences involving the abuse of youngsters as young as three.
Dubbed Operation Lattise, the investigation focused on the distribution of indecent images, online grooming and the live streaming of abuse on webcams.
Police said much of the work to identify culprits was still going on, but but 390 charges had already been brought, including rape, sharing indecent images, bestiality and drug offences.
Malcolm Graham, Police Scotland Asst Chief Constable, said: “Online child sexual abuse is a national threat – the reality is it is happening now, not only in Scotland but across the world, to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers.
“Operation Lattise was about shining a light on the scale of this issue – it was focused activity to tackle the many forms of online child sexual abuse by identifying those who pose a risk to children online and, more importantly, identifying victims of online sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as preventing more youngsters becoming victims.
He said child abuse and exploitation “takes place solely because of decisions made on the part of the abuser”.
“Online child sexual abuse is a national threat – the reality is it is happening now, not only in Scotland but across the world, to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers”Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham
“Online child sexual abuse is not a victimless crime: children, from toddlers to teenagers, are being sexually abused and exploited now in Scotland and when an image or video clip is shared or viewed, they are being re-victimised,” he added.
“We will continue to work with our partners to protect and promote the wellbeing of all children. Our commitment to tackling this horrific threat will continue.”
Joanna Barrett, of NSPCC Scotland, said: “We are increasingly concerned about the harm caused to children through online activity. Too many children are exposed to dangerous and harmful content through the internet, or are subjected to online harassment, grooming, and sexual exploitation.
“We recently highlighted how the internet is playing an increasing role in the sexual abuse of younger children in Scotland, with a 60 per cent rise recorded over a year in the number of indecent communications offences carried out by adults against children aged under 13.
“It is vital we learn more about the nature and scale of this offending in Scotland and its impact on children and young people. Everyone has a responsibility to ensure that children are protected online.”