North Yorkshire Police have made four arrests as part of a national Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) operation.
A nation-wide police operation targeting known and suspected child sexual offenders has resulted in more than 141 search warrants being executed, 76 suspected offenders being arrested and 80 children safeguarded and protected from abuse so far.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre joined forces with over 40 police forces and officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in Operation Tharsley for two days of action on Tuesday 12 and Wednesday 13th June, in a bid to crack down on those individuals thought to be in possession of child abuse images.
The suspects were identified as a result of intelligence received directly from CEOP as well as from investigations conducted locally.
The majority of the warrants conducted related to image offences, including the possession and distribution of indecent images of children (IIOC). Additionally, arrests were also made where known offenders had breached the conditions of the Sex Offender’s Register.
The CEOP Centre coordinated Operation Tharsley with UK police forces and with support from the Serious and Organised Crime Agency, who provided 34 officers to assist with the execution of warrants, seizing equipment and interviewing of offenders.
The conclusion of Operation Tharsley coincides with the launch of a report from the CEOP called ‘A Picture of Abuse’. This Thematic Assessment brings together current academic thinking and operational police experience in the form of case studies and practitioner debriefs, in order to better understand the risk posed by ‘image only’ offenders. The report underlines the significant risk of contact offending posed by those who possess indecent images of children. It makes key recommendations about how police forces, others involved in child protection and the criminal justice process, can manage that risk to safeguard and protect more children.
Andy Baker, Deputy Chief Executive of CEOP, said:
It is clear that those who possess indecent images also pose a significant risk to children and understanding and managing that risk is not an easy undertaking. However, when we bring together the latest intelligence picture, nationally coordinated police action and operational support from our colleagues in SOCA, we are making the UK a more hostile place for those who are seeking to exploit our children.
If offenders think that collecting child abuse images is something they can get away with, they need to think again. These arrests show once again how law enforcement is becoming increasingly coordinated, sophisticated and innovative in targeting those who commit these crimes.
Operation Tharsley highlights the excellent work carried out by UK police forces on a daily basis and I’ve seen first-hand the passion and dedication of officers investigating these cases. With our transition into the National Crime Agency, we will continue to support forces with child abuse investigations and enhance the UK’s response in combating child sexual exploitation
Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Costello, head of North Yorkshire Police’s Protecting Vulnerable Persons Unit, said:
North Yorkshire Police wholeheartedly supports the work of CEOP and has played an active part in Operation Tharsley.
We have executed four warrants in the county this week which has led to the seizure of computer equipment, associated material and the arrest of four men, one of whom has been charged to court.
This high-profile national operation shines a light on the daily work of our intelligence teams who support detectives and uniformed officers to bring offenders involved in the possession and distribution of indecent images of children to justice.
I can assure our communities that we are working tirelessly on such investigations 24 hours a day, 365 days each year. We are also involved with CEOP and other partner agencies to help raise awareness about this issue and to promote online safety.
Action taken by North Yorkshire Police under Operation Tharsley:
- A 40-year-old man from Scarborough was arrested and charged to court after a warrant was executed. He was due to appear at Scarborough Magistrates’ Court today (14 June), 10am, court room 2, charged with three offences: engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child; distributing an indecent photograph; and possession of an indecent image.
- A 57-year-old man from Harrogate was arrested and later released on conditional bail pending further enquiries after a warrant was executed at his home address. Computers and peripheral equipment have been seized for analysis as part of the ongoing investigation.
- A 52-year-old man from Stokesley was arrested and later released on conditional police bail pending further enquiries after a warrant was executed at his home address. Computers and associated equipment and material were seized as part of the ongoing investigation.
- A 54-year-old man from the Whitby area was arrested and later released on police bail pending further enquiries after a warrant was executed at his home address. Computer-related items were seized as part of the ongoing investigation.