Lincolnshire Police has taken part in a nationwide operation to help safeguard children by arresting suspected sex offenders.
Operation Notarise has been coordinated by the National Crime Agency (NCA), and has led to 660 arrests nationwide across England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, with more than 400 children safeguarded.
The operation aimed to target people allegedly accessing indecent images of children online, with details of the operation not released until now to protect children, identify offenders and secure evidence.
Supt Rick Hatton, head of Public Protection in Lincolnshire, said: “We are deliberately not disclosing details of the tactics used to identify offenders.
“By damaging paedophiles’ confidence about operating online, we are letting them, and potential abusers, know that the internet is not a safe place for them and that the digital footprint they leave is one which we are committed to following to ensure children are protected from harm.”
National Crime Agency Deputy Director General Phil Gormley said: “This is the first time the UK has had the capability to coordinate a single targeted operation of this nature. Over the past six months we have seen unprecedented levels of cooperation to deliver this result.
“Our aim was to protect children who were victims of, or might be at risk of, sexual exploitation. A child is victimised not only when they are abused and an image is taken. They are re-victimised every time that image is viewed by someone.
“Some of the people who start by accessing indecent images online go on to abuse children directly. So the operation is not only about catching people who have already offended – it is about influencing potential offenders before they cross that line.”
Anyone convicted of possessing indecent images faces a maximum sentence of five years.
Anyone convicted of offences involving making, taking or distributing indecent images faces up to ten years in jail.
Lincolnshire Police has been involved with 17 operations in the county resulting in arrests.
Nobody has yet been charged and a number of people remain on police bail, with the police unable to provide further details about those arrested.