Fourteen people have been arrested as Lincolnshire Police carried out 17 raids in the county as part of a nationwide swoop on paedophiles.
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.
Nobody has been charged yet and a number of people remain on bail.
Police are refusing to release further details saying this is to protect children, not identify offenders and to secure evidence.#
But they did involve targeting people allegedly accessing indecent images of children online.
“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,” said Supt Rick Hatton, head of Public Protection in Lincolnshire.
Nationally, 45 police agencies took part in the raids, which have uncovered alleged offenders including 39 registered sex offenders with most of those arrested not previously coming to the law’s attention.
The National Crime Agency also stressed none of the people arrested as part of the crackdown are a serving or former MP or member of the government.
“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,” said NCA deputy director Phil Gormley.
“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,” he said.
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 10 years in jail.