'427 children safeguarded by unit'
More than 400 children were safeguarded from online paedophiles in the last year, a specialist police unit has said.
In the last 12 months, 427 children were safeguarded or protected by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop).
That included 60 victims who were found by Ceop identification teams, for example through looking at child abuse images online and tracing those children involved. The figure also includes children who sex abuse suspects had access to as well as children who have been abused.
The agency arrested 192 suspects in the last year, not including more than 100 arrests made in a 48-hour operation last week.
Peter Davies, chief executive of Ceop, said: "The safeguarding of so many children this year speaks for itself and is a tremendous achievement. We've identified the groups of offenders and sexual predators we believe pose the greatest risk to children and have prioritised these.
"The centre's reach is greater than ever before through our network of partners and we are using increasingly sophisticated methods to catch offenders."
Targeting sex offenders who share indecent images online and attempt to hide their activities and avoid detection will be the agency's top priority for the coming year.
The unit's annual review, newly published, highlights users who engage in this kind of activity and use areas of the internet which they believe are hidden to create or share new or "first generation" indecent images of children.
Many indecent images and videos are seen for the first time on such sites, suggesting many of the users are involved in the production of the material.
Mr Davies said: "Some offenders have come to mistakenly believe that there are areas online, or tactics they can employ, that will cover their tracks from law enforcement. This is not the case. There is nowhere to hide. We will be specifically targeting these offenders over the coming months with the full range of policing resources available to the centre."