NORTH Wales Police officers been working with the National Crime Agency (NCA) on a six-month operation that has seen 660 suspected paedophiles arrested.
Nationally more than 400 children have been safeguarded.
In North Wales, eight people have been arrested as part of the operation.
Of the 660, 39 people were Registered Sex Offenders but the majority of those arrested had not previously come to law enforcement’s attention.
The operation targeted people accessing indecent images of children online. It has stayed covert till today in order to protect children, identify offenders and secure evidence.
The NCA and its partners will not reveal the methods used to track down suspects so that they can be used again in the future.
Charging decisions are awaited in most cases but so far charges brought range from possessing indecent images of children to serious sexual assault.
Detective Chief Superintendent Wayne Jones said: "North Wales Police have been actively working with the National Crime Agency on this operation for some time, in order to target people who access indecent images of children online.”
“Our primary objective has been to protect children from harm, identify offenders and secure evidence. We will continue to work covertly to catch those people who engage in such offences.
“Offenders may feel safe at home, thinking they can anonymously access the internet to view indecent images online. They should be absolutely clear that this is not the case as the operation shows. We will continue to do all we can to identify these people, arrest them and protect children."
North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC said: "I have made a clear commitment in my Crime and Police Plan to the continued development of proactive capability in identifying perpetrators of child sexual exploitation, including those accessing indecent images of children through the internet.
"The work undertaken by the National Crime Agency is a tremendous step forward in tackling such crimes, as is the subsequent work undertaken locally by North Wales Police.
"The perpetrators of these terrible crimes can't remain hidden forever and this work demonstrates the benefits of collectively working to protect children from harm. We will continue to root them out and bring them to justice.
NCA Deputy Director General Phil Gormley said: “This is the first time the UK has had the capability to coordinate a single targeted operation of this nature. Over the past six months we have seen unprecedented levels of cooperation to deliver this result.
“Our aim was to protect children who were victims of, or might be at risk of, sexual exploitation. A child is victimised not only when they are abused and an image is taken. They are re-victimised every time that image is viewed by someone.
“Some of the people who start by accessing indecent images online go on to abuse children directly. So the operation is not only about catching people who have already offended – it is about influencing potential offenders before they cross that line
“We want those offenders to know that the internet is not a safe anonymous space for accessing indecent images, that they leave a digital footprint, and that law enforcement will find it”.
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