No hiding place for perverts

INTERNET child porn perverts were today warned there is no hiding place.Although Operation Queensbury, Suffolk's arm of the national investigation codenamed Ore, is coming to a close, there are likely to be more arrests as breakthroughs to crack web crime are being developing at a rapid pace.

INTERNET child porn perverts were today warned there is no hiding place.

Although Operation Queensbury, Suffolk's arm of the national investigation codenamed Ore, is coming to a close, there are likely to be more arrests as breakthroughs to crack web crime are being developing at a rapid pace.

Superintendent Paul Marshall, who led the Suffolk investigation, said of the number of people caught during Queensbury: "This is just the tip of the iceberg.

"We want people to understand that they cannot effectively disguise their use of these websites.

"No matter how sophisticated the software, we have the expertise or have access to those with the expertise, to recover the information required to prove guilt.

"If anyone views images of children via the internet they stand a good chance of being detected and prosecuted.

Most Read

"Offenders risk their livelihood, their reputation and their relationship with their family may come under severe pressure."

Without wanting to go into specifics for operational reasons, Supt Marshall said the intelligence coming through indicates the viewing of child pornography is increasing.

He said: "NCIS (the National Criminal Intelligence Service) are still receiving details of web sites from around the world that are being investigated and details of those people who accessed these sites are being forwarded to us on a regular basis."

Because of this, as from April 1 Suffolk police will have a dedicated unit set up to deal with the increasing scourge of internet child pornography.

Crown Prosecution barrister Robert Sadd said those downloading child porn should not make the mistake of thinking only people who use credit cards to access sites will be caught.

He said: "There are a number of various methods of inquiries open to police. Expertise is now being developed nationally so we are not reliant on a list of credit cards."

Supt Marshall also praised his team of officers, who numbered 20 at the inquiry's height.

He said: "I would like to pay tribute to the work of my investigating team who spent hundreds of hours looking a videos and images of children, sometimes of the most explicit nature. On one case alone more than 600 videos were seized and viewed and in another 40,000 indecent images of children were recovered.

"A majority of the officers have children of their own and were clearly affected by what they saw. It is to their credit that they approached this in a professional manner, regardless of the unpleasant nature of the work.

"The welfare of officers and members of staff from other agencies was of concern from the outset. Our officers received counselling before being exposed to the material and were offered further assistance as the investigation progressed.

"These were very serious offences. Each image contained at least one child that is being subjected to abuse and sometimes of the most horrific nature which undoubtedly will affect that child for the rest of their life"

Supt Marshall said by downloading and sometimes paying for these pictures the offenders are creating a market for them. He added those found guilty already came from all sections of society.

During the investigation computer experts in Suffolk and the National Technical Assistance Centre were used to recover images wiped from hard drives. In other instances sophisticated programmes were used by the guilty to mask the pornography on their computers.

Police worked closely with the CPS, Suffolk County Council staff and the courts as Operation Queensbury progressed. Supt Marshall believes this proved key in bringing many of those convicted or cautioned to justice quickly.

He reserved special praise for the CPS: "This teamwork ensured the least possible evidence was presented in court. It is therefore not surprising that the vast majority of those who have gone to court have pleaded guilty, saving a good deal of court time and public money."

Anyone with information about child abuse or the accessing of child pornography should telephone Suffolk police on 01473 613500 or Crimestoppers on freephone 0800 555111.

n OPERATION Queensbury, evolved from a list of alleged offenders who were using the internet to access the American 'Landslide' website.

N Queensbury is the largest of its kind in Suffolk's history.

N It cost an estimated at £500,000.

N All of the 56 suspects, who resided in Suffolk, were named on the Queensbury list provided by the National Crime Squad in November 2002.

N Matters against 14 of those named on the list have resulted in no further police action being taken.

N Thirty suspects have been cautioned or convicted and sentenced and their names entered on the Sex Offenders Register and must remain so for five years.

N The remaining 12 people have been charged and are currently in the court system.

N Sentences for those convicted have ranged from a caution to two years imprisonment with the maximum fine imposed to date being £2,500.

N In every case computer equipment was confiscated.

N The material gathered by officers filled several large rooms.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter