13 suspected paedophiles arrested in Scotland after police operation

Online abuse More than 339 people suspected online paedophiles were arrested since 2013

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Thirteen suspected paedophiles have been arrested in Scotland in an operation targeting offenders UK-wide.

The arrests make up a total of more than 339 suspected online paedophiles detained by Police Scotland since April 2013.

Police Scotland shared information with the National Crime Agency in order to try to protect children online.

All 14 divisions of Scotland's single police force have targeted suspected online abusers.

The National Crime Agency has revealed that 660 suspected paedophiles, included doctors, teachers, scout leaders, care workers and former police officers, have been arrested as part of its six-month operation targeting people accessing child abuse images online.

Paediatric nurse

Among the 13 detained in Scotland was a man eventually sentenced to nine years for making and distributing indecent images, including raping a child.

A paediatric nurse who worked with vulnerable children and their families also pleaded guilty to making, possessing and distributing child abuse images.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said: "There is no hiding place for criminals who offend by targeting the most vulnerable in our communities by committing sexual abuse, which includes abuse committed and viewed via the internet for their own gratification or the gratification of others.

"Over the past five years, and through the formation of the single service, our focus has been on making sure we pro-actively use new technologies and a full range of investigative techniques to prevent paedophiles using the internet to exploit the vulnerable and cause harm.

"There is no place in any law-abiding community for this behaviour and we will use every method at our disposal to trace those responsible and deal with them."

The UK-wide investigation has been welcomed by NSPCC Scotland.

Online businesses

Claire Lilley, the child protection charity's head of online safety, said: "This is an important two-pronged operation which has rescued children from abuse and also identified many previously unknown sex offenders.

"Direct action like this sends a strong message to those who subject children to harrowing sexual assaults that they can and will be traced and prosecuted."

However, she urged online businesses to do more to police the internet.

"Law enforcement agencies alone cannot deal with the vast problem of illegal images which continue to flood the market," she said.

"Industry has to find inventive ways of blocking the flow of such horrendous pictures, which are only produced through the suffering of defenceless children, many of who are not even old enough to go to school.

"So, while this operation must be rightly applauded, we should view it as yet another warning sign that far more needs to be done if we are to stem the sordid trade in these images, which are often used by those who go on to abuse children."

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