Child porn arrests as police step up activity

Court news
Court news

In recent weeks three men have appeared separately at Lisburn Magistrates Court to face charges of making or possessing indecent images of children.

This week saw the latest defendant appearing in court charged with making indecent images of children over the course of twelve years between 2000 and 2012, whilst another faced some ten separate charges.

The apparent increase in charges of this nature comes after it was revealed by the PSNI that a specialist team had been cracking down on the creation and distribution of abuse images of children across Northern Ireland.

In an interview, the head of the Child Internet Protection Team (CIPT), Rachel Shields, revealed that seventy searches had been carried out by the team over the past year, resulting in some fifty arrests and 37 individuals being charged with making and possession of indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children.

The team, which is based in Belfast, investigates incidents throughout Northern Ireland, including any suspicious activity in the Lisburn area.

“There is this perception that this sort of child abuse goes on elsewhere, not in Northern Ireland, but we do have very dangerous offenders,” Ms Sheilds was reported as saying. “These are the most complex cases.

“It is important to realise that in the virtual world, in the cyber world there are no borders and no boundaries and this would be across a global scale, an international scale in terms of the abuse online that this team would deal with.”

She stressed the importance of parental supervision when it came to online activity, to ensure children are as safe as possible.

“Know what your children are doing online, know who they are talking to, who is talking to them online.

“You wouldn’t release your child to go and walk the streets of Belfast unsupervised at the age of 10, 11, 12 or younger, yet a lot of people are leaving their kids online unsupervised.”

Ms Shield continued by explaining that offenders who have been identified by the Child Internet Protection Team can range in age from 16 to 70, are predominantly male but do cover a wide spectrum of society.

She issued a dire warning to anyone engaging in the production or distribution of indecent images of children and made it clear that the fight against this crime will continue.

“The message is very clear - we are watching you online,” she said.

“You leave a digital footprint when you are downloading, viewing, making indecent images of children and we have the capacity, capability and determination to catch you and bring you to justice.”