Wales

Police should help paedophile hunters, April Jones' sister says

Jazmin Jones
Image caption Jazmin Jones said she understood why people felt the need to get involved

Police should work with so-called paedophile hunters in the fight against online grooming, the sister of murdered schoolgirl April Jones has said.

Jazmin Jones said she understood why people wanted to help catch offenders.

But she said some methods could hinder police investigations and officers should give advice on how to help.

The Home Office and police have said it is inappropriate for the public to conduct undercover work.

Authorities have instead urged anyone with information to pass it to them.

Miss Jones' comments came after a BBC Week in Week Out programme which included calls from "paedophile hunter" groups to be given a greater role in the fight against online child sexual exploitation.

Image caption Five-year-old April Jones went missing from Machynlleth in October 2012

Speaking to BBC Radio Wales' Jason Mohammad programme on Thursday, Miss Jones said the police could do more to work with such groups.

"I understand that people want these paedophiles off the streets because they are protecting their own children and their family's children," she said.

"[But] there's so many things that could go wrong if the police do not step in and help out."

She added: "I think the police need to sit down with people from these groups... and actually talk about what's going on, say 'to get a conviction you need to do this, this and this and you can't do this'."

Five-year-old April went missing on 1 October 2012, in Machynlleth, Powys, but despite the biggest police search in British history, her body has never been found.

Mark Bridger, who was convicted of her murder in 2013, had hundreds of pictures of children being abused on his computer and had contacted young girls online.

Since her death, the family has campaigned on issues involving sex offenders.

The former head of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Agency, Jim Gamble, has previously said the number of officers working undercover to identify online groomers was limited and called for 1,500 volunteers to be recruited to help.

The National Police Chiefs' Council would not give exact figures on the number of officers carrying out such work, while the Home Office said it had given the National Crime Agency an extra £30m to tackle online child sexual exploitation.

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