38 Suspected Online Grooming Paedophiles Arrested in London

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London’s Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has arrested nearly 40 suspected online grooming paedophiles and have launched protective services to safeguard 138 children throughout the city.

As a part of Operation Legatum, which ran between May 18th and May 23rd that targeted online grooming, police seized dozens of laptops, tablets, and phones that are believed to contain indecent pornographic material of children.

The MPS will now comb through tens of thousands of files as a part of the investigation, which targeted a group of men “from a variety of backgrounds”.

The Met’s Online Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation (OCSAE) Unit warned that during the national lockdown, there is an increased threat to children due to the amount of time spent on the internet rather than being in school.

“Since the lockdown started, officers have been working flat out to track down those suspected of harming children and young people online,” said Detective Superintendent Helen Flanagan.

“Online offenders sometimes try and convince themselves that they’re ‘only looking’, but there is no such thing. Every image is a crime scene, with a real child being abused. Every time offenders look at or share that image they are committing a vile crime and repeating abuse which devastates lives,” Flanagan added.

In March, the European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol) warned that sexual predators would try to take advantage of the coronavirus lockdown to exploit children. The crime agency said that there are indications of “increased online activity by those seeking child abuse material”.

In the first month of the national lockdown, which began on March 23rd, police officers in London arrested 45 suspected paedophiles, protected 92 children, and executed 68 warrants.

The Met said that it is receiving an average of 50 reports a week from the National Crime Agency, but noted that the figures are expected to rise later in the year when crime figures during the lockdown are published.

“Lockdown has led to a significant growth in online use, including by children. Unfortunately, it also means there are a greater number of sexual predators out there trying to target and groom young people,” Det Supt Flanagan said.

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