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Operation Tharsley – Over 100 People Arrested Over Web Paedophilia

A retired teacher, members of the armed forces and a scout leader are among 100 people arrested as a result of raids targeting online paedophiles.

Over 143 search warrants were executed by police from over 40 different forces during the UK wide raids led by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP). The majority of the warrants related to downloading and distributing of indecent images. As a result of the raids over 80 children were removed from harm including 20 children found at the homes that were raided.

Operation Tharsley took place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week with support from the Serious Organised Crime Agency. Among those arrested were a pathologist, a firefighter, government employees and a referee. Known sex offenders who had breached the conditions of the sex offenders register were also arrested.

Officers at the scenes all over the country seized USB storage devices, external hard drives and digital cameras over the 48 hour period and were preparing to scrutinise every image seized to ascertain whether any of the victims could be identified.

The raids come as the government announces a draft bill to allow details of internet history to be stored for up to a year which will enable intelligence services to better track crime in an attempt to protect children from paedophiles.

This also follows a report published by CEOP on the risks posed by people who download indecent images of children. The report found a correlation between the viewing of abusive images and sex attacks being carried out on children.

With the number of arrests expected to rise in the coming weeks however, the true number of children targeted by online paedophiles may never be established.

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