Crackdown on suspected paedophiles leads to 14 arrests across Bedfordshire


A nationwide crackdown on suspected paedophiles has led to 14 arrests across the county since April.

Officers from Beds Police joined police forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in the operation– which has safeguarded more than 400 children.

One man detained by Beds Police has been charged, while 13 others are on police bail with no current charges.

County officers have also seized and are examining the contents of 250 electronic devices.

In total 660 suspected paedophiles were arrested during the siix-month operation involving 45 police forces.

Some of those detained had unsupervised access to children in the course of their work.

They include doctors, teachers, scout leaders, care workers and former police officers.

Of the 660, 39 people were registered sex offenders but the majority of those arrested had not previously come to law enforcement’s attention.

The operation targeted people accessing indecent images of children online.

Operation Notarise remained under wraps until yesterday in order to protect children, identify offenders and secure evidence.

The National Crime Agency and its partners are not revealing the methods they used to track down suspects so that they can use the same tactics again in the future.

Charging decisions are awaited in most cases but so far charges brought range from possessing indecent images of children to serious sexual assault.

Detective inspector Jerry Waite, of Bedfordshire Police Public Protection Unit, said: “We are currently in the process of examining the contents of 250 electronic devices connected with our local cases in Operation Notarise.

“We’re pleased to have been able to help with such a significant and wide-ranging enquiry which has resulted in six joint investigations with Social Services into potential hands-on child abuse offences.

“Of course we are continually taking new cases and will always want to hear from anyone who has abuse, or suspicions of abuse, of any kind to report.”

NCA deputy director Phil Gormley added: “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.”