Police launch campaign against child groomers who use web

Police Scotland has launched a campaign to combat paedophiles who use the internet to groom children for sex.

The initiative, which will run on social media and other digital platforms over the next month, aims to alert potential predators that police know how they operate.

It comes after the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents warned the force is struggling to cope with the levels of cyber-crime.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley said: “Children across Scotland – both boys and girls – are being groomed for sex by predators. This insidious behaviour can, at times, be hidden under a veil of seemingly innocent contact when in reality the child is being groomed to be sexually abused.

“Sexually exploiting a child will not be tolerated and our message to perpetrators is simple: we know how you operate, where you operate and the techniques you use. We’re on to you.”

In July, Operation Lattise, which ran for just five weeks, identified more than 500 children as potential victims of online sexual abuse. The operation led to 30 million indecent images being seized and 77 people being charged.

Justice secretary Michael Matheson said: “Keeping children safe from abuse and exploitation is a key priority for the Scottish Government and we fully support the work of Police Scotland to tackle those who prey on children.

“Police Scotland is doing excellent work to tackle all forms of child sexual abuse and it is important that perpetrators know that exploitation in any form will never be tolerated in Scotland.

“Everyone has a responsibility to protect the most vulnerable in society by reporting signs of child exploitation and abuse so it can be stopped.”

Martin Crewe, director of Barnardo’s Scotland, added: “Barnardo’s Scotland is giving its full support to Police Scotland on this important campaign.

“Child sexual exploitation is happening to girls and boys across Scotland today and has a huge and long-lasting impact on the victims. However, we know more and more about how perpetrators operate and the grooming techniques they use so we are now able to target them more effectively.”

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