The police force in Bradford, England, has arrested 27 men, aged between 16 and 57, in connection to the online sexual abuse of children.
The operation, which was carried out by the Bradford’s Policing Online Investigation Team (POLIT), seized more than 60 devices that are alleged to have been used to contact children or contained indecent images of minors.
Police arrested and questioned the 27 men before they were released under investigation or bailed while the police continue to examine the extent of their suspected offences, West Yorkshire Police said in a statement.
The police said that as a result of the investigation safeguarding measures were implemented to protect 26 children.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Weekes, said: “Targeted operations like these demonstrate that we take the online sexual exploitation of children in Bradford District seriously and that we will take action against offenders and safeguard those children they have attempted to exploit.”
“We urge parents and carers, particularly in the current climate where children are spending more time at home, to regularly monitor their children’s devices and report any concerns to the police or partner agencies, so these can be investigated fully,” DCI Weekes added.
Gangs Luring Hundreds of Children into Sexual Exploitation, ‘County Lines’ Crime in Multicultural Bradford https://t.co/aDdS6RqOoC
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) October 11, 2018
Councillor Adrian Farley, the Executive Member for Children and Families, said: “It’s a good result that the police have made these arrests.”
“It sends out a strong message to anyone thinking of committing these sorts of crimes that grooming children online will not be tolerated, particularly at this time when children are spending more time online because of the Coronavirus lockdown.”
In March, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) warned that sexual predators will attempt to use the coronavirus crisis to take advantage of children online, as youngsters are spending more time indoors and on the computer.
Europol said that investigations have strongly indicated “increased online activity by those seeking child abuse material”.
In 2018, an investigation found that the ethnically diverse city of Bradford was a hotbed for the exploitation of children, with criminal gangs using children for drug trafficking, sex, and other crimes. The report found that grooming gangs were actively abusing 471 children.
Of the 347 children that were believed to be at risk of sexual exploitation, 203 children were white British. The report also found that over 60 per cent of the suspected abusers were of Pakistani heritage.
Grooming Gang Epidemic: Nearly 19,000 Children Sexually Exploited in the UK Last Year https://t.co/ew64ytkRk2
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) December 31, 2019
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