Seven people have been arrested in Surrey and 72 computers and related items seized by police as part of a national operation targeting paedophiles.
The arrests came as part of the national Operation Notarise, which has seen the Surrey and Sussex Forces working closely together.
Details of the operation were released by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) last Wednesday (July 16). A Surrey Police spokeswoman said: “The Surrey and Sussex Paedophile On-Line Investigation Teams (POLIT) received 46 intelligence packages from NCA-Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre (CEOP) as part of Operation Notarise between April and June this year.” She said: “This resulted in a total of 29 warrants being executed in Sussex with 24 arrests, and six warrants being executed in Surrey with seven arrests. “All arrests were for offences relating to the possession and/or sharing of indecent images of children.”
She continued: “In Sussex, 332 computers and related items were seized, and in Surrey, 72 were seized. “Several thousand other items, such as books, magazines, DVDs and cassettes, were seized. “Forensic examination and further enquiries are continuing in each case while the men are on bail, and reports will be submitted to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) when investigations are complete.”
The spokeswoman added: “As yet, no evidence has been found of any contact offending against any children, but precautionary child protection measures have been taken in cases where suspects have been found to have access to children. “As a consequence of the operation, 13 children in Sussex and four in Surrey were subject of a safeguarding referral to Children's Social Care. “These referrals allow police and social workers to consider what precautionary measures might need to be put in place to ensure the children are protected from harm. “However, there has been no evidence to date of any specific risk or of contact offending.”
Assistant Chief Constable Stuart Cundy, of the Surrey and Sussex Specialist Crime Command, said: “Working closely with the National Crime Agency we have identified and arrested those who use the internet to access indecent images of children.”
He said: “This operation aimed to protect children who are, or might be at risk of sexual exploitation. “Those who access indecent images should know the internet is not anonymous and we will pursue you.”
He continued: "Every day, police officers and staff from Surrey and Sussex Police work alongside our partners in statutory and voluntary agencies, to identify and safeguard children and young people who are at risk of, or are suffering physical or sexual abuse. "As part of our policing together approach, Surrey and Sussex Police have arrested 31 people as a result of this national operation."