Nine arrested in connection with online sexual offences relating to children

A 54 year old from Leek is among nine men who have been arrested across Staffordshire in connection with online sexual offences.

The warrants were part of Operation Safenet, which aims to safeguard children by detecting abuse and prosecuting offenders for the possession and distribution of indecent images of children. 

The Leek man was arrested on October 27 on suspicion of possessing, Making and distributing images of children.

Each week the Staffordshire Police child exploitation team uses the latest digital investigative techniques to identify where illegal images are being viewed.

Three days later (Oct 30), two men from Stoke-on-Trent were taken into custody; a 25-year-old on suspicion of possession of indecent images of children, and a 34-year-old on suspicion of making and distributing images of children. 

The following day (Oct 31), officers arrested two men from Newcastle-under-Lyme; a 38-year-old on suspicion of possessing, making and distributing images of children, and a 70-year-old on suspicion of accessing indecent images of children. 

Yesterday (Nov 2) two men from Codsall were taken into custody; a 37-year-old on suspicion of attempted sexual communication with a child, and a 23-year-old on suspicion of possession and making indecent images of children. 

Today (Nov 3), two men from Cannock were apprehended; a 43-year-old and a 74-year-old on suspicion of possessing, making and distributing images of children. 

All nine individuals have either been bailed with conditions or been released from custody whilst the criminal investigations continues. 

The Operation Safenet team have carried out 690 investigations, arrested 215 individuals and safeguarded 342 children. 

Detective Sergeant Jon Heathcote, of the force’s child exploitation team, said: “Operation Safenet was set up in 2015 to proactively tackle those individuals who seek to sexually exploit children over the internet. We work closely with the National Crime Agency, international law enforcement, internet service providers and social media companies to highlight these individuals and bring them to justice. 

We use the latest digital forensic techniques to set up a mobile forensic laboratory in the home of the suspect in order to quickly identify the nature of offending and safeguard children at the earliest possible stage. 

This week of activity has tackled a range of individuals who exploit children over the internet through various means including; distributing indecent imagery of children, seeking to groom children over the internet and those who are actively discussing the sexual abuse of children through online chat platforms. I would like to send a clear message to those individuals within Staffordshire and the wider region, who are looking at indecent imagery of children on the internet or using the internet as a vehicle to sexually exploit children in any form; that you will be identified and brought to justice. 

I would also like to urge parents or carers of children who have access to the internet, to ensure they are aware of their child’s online activity in order that they are kept safe whilst using the internet. For further information please access www.thinkuknow.co.uk.”