Arrests made in week of action by Cumbria’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit

Three people have been arrested at various locations around the county following a week of action by Cumbria Constabulary’s Cyber and Digital Crime Unit.

Detectives also seized 19 digital devices suspected to contain indecent images of children and made contact with a number of potential victims to ensure their safety.

The team undertook numerous enquiries with key witnesses and carried out a further suspect interview.

Officers in the specialised unit work all-year-round to deal with online offending and to help and safeguard those at risk of being exploited.

Last year they made 38 arrests, carried out 28 search warrants and safeguarded 108 children.

The week of action saw a significant number of enquiries under a short period of intensification

This forms part of Cumbria Constabulary’s ongoing response to serious and organised crime, Operation Alliance.

The results of the week are released today ( February 7 ) on Safer Internet Day.

The constabulary’s social media will continue to promote ways of staying safe online as part of this awareness-raising day and in the future.

Detective Inspector Fiona Gray leads the unit.

She said: “The team work incredibly hard day-in-day-out to target those committing online child sexual abuse and, most importantly, to safeguard vulnerable victims who are identified as at risk.

“Those who solely offend online may feel that their offending is somehow less harmful.

“However, behind every indecent image is a child suffering sexual abuse – and accessing these images fuels the market for such abuse.

“I would also urge people to consider the devastating impact of such offending on their own family as well as their employment.

“We will continue to use the many tools available to us to proactively target those who offend online, safeguard victims and bring offenders to justice.

“I would urge anyone who has concerns, whether for a child vulnerable to sexual abuse or exploitation, or an individual accessing indecent images of children, to share your concerns with the constabulary as soon as possible via any of the various reporting mechanisms available.

 

“If you have concerns about your own online behaviour additional support is available from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation.”

 

More information is available here: Get Help website for people worried about online offending | The Lucy Faithfull Foundation

The week of action took place last week, between January 30 and February 3.

Two of those arrested have been charged and one released on conditional bail.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, who funds the Cyber and Digital Crime Unit, said: “When we think about policing most of us do not think about cyber crime, this involves many types of really harmful crimes including fraudulent scamming and terrible abuse including child sexual abuse.

“I often refer to this as ‘unseen crime’ which is no less dangerous to our communities, in some ways more harmful than some of the crimes we see.  This is why it is important that we balance resource to deal with all types of crime and the criminals who commit it.

“Technology is constantly advancing, therefore it is essential that we have a dedicated team to help investigate and arrest those who use technology to commit their crimes.

“The Cyber and Digital Crime Unit do a brilliant job at investigating and catching cyber criminals to bring them to justice and to safeguard victims.

“Anyone holding indecent images of children in Cumbria will be caught and dealt with in the appropriate manner.

“I would urge anyone that has suspicions about someone they know holding indecent images or being inappropriate with a minor to report it to the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

“Together we can make Cumbria an even safer place to live.”

DI Gray added: “Tackling online crime and protecting young people is of the utmost importance to us.

“The way criminals who seek to exploit children operate has developed with the continuous advancement in technology.

 

“Many of the crimes we deal with are unseen to the public, with offenders using online platforms to contact children to groom them into sexual or criminal activity.

 

“This is happening behind closed doors, sometimes invisible to parents or guardians.

 

“I would urge people to familiarise themselves with all aspects of their children’s online activity and have regular open and honest discussions with their children about their digital lives.

 

“Having an open channel of communication will prevent victimisation and enable young people to seek support and advice at an early stage if they find themselves in a difficult situation.”

SOME ADVICE ON KEEPING SAFE ONLINE:

 

  • Think about placing restriction settings on online devices. Find out more at www.thinkuknow.co.uk
  • Explain to children that it’s easy for people to lie about age, gender and interests online – and children should never arrange to meet someone without an adult who they trust
  • Make sure children or young people know that once they share personal details online, including pictures, they lose control over where these may end up.
  • Keep security settings on social media at high levels

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