Sixty children saved from abuse in UK as paedophile ring is broken

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The Independent Online

An operation to arrest members of one of the biggest international paedophile rings ever has allowed police and other agencies to rescue 60 children from their abusers in Britain. A further 170 children were rescued from abuse in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the US as part of an international police operation into internet child abuse networks.

The inquiry was headed by Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) and its boss, UK police chief Peter Davies, said: "In the UK alone 60 children have been safeguarded and 121 offenders arrested of which there have been 33 convictions. Investigations across the world continue."

Across the world 670 paedophile suspects have been identified and a total of 184 arrests made as part of Operation Rescue, which has been running for more than three years.

The latest arrest was in Northamptonshire, it was revealed at a press conference in The Hague, headquarters of Europol, which co-ordinated a police crackdown involving forces in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, America and the UK.

Mr Davies said that overall 230 children had been identified as victims of child abuse and rescued. Some will have been taken into care. "The paedophile suspects belonged to an online forum – – operated from a server based in the Netherlands. The website, which has now been shut down, had 70,000 members and attempted to run a 'discussion-only' exchange to share members' sexual interests in young boys without committing specific offences," he said.

"But some members used the contacts established on the site to set up more private links with other members to exchange and share illegal images and films of child abuse."

Ceop senior investigating officer Kelvin Lay said most of the hundreds of users of the site who had already been investigated were likely to be arrested. "The latest arrest was in Northamptonshire and some other people can expect a knock on the door at any time." The original website which triggered Operation Rescue attracted all sorts of people, Europol director Rob Wainwright said. Among those arrested were schoolteachers, taxi drivers, IT consultants and scoutmasters.

Thirty-three of the 121 offenders arrested in Britain have been convicted. Their ages range from 17 to 82.