Police arrest 21 suspected paedophiles in West Yorkshire in biggest national swoop of its kind

SWOOP: The National Crime Agency has been leading the operation

SWOOP: The National Crime Agency has been leading the operation

First published in News

POLICE in West Yorkshire have made 21 arrests of suspected paedophiles, including some in the Bradford district, as part of a nationwide operation to protect children.

Officers have arrested men across all five policing districts in West Yorkshire during a major six-month sex crime crackdown, co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency and the Association of Chief Police Officers.

Nationally, 660 suspected paedophiles have been arrested - including doctors, teachers, former police officers, care workers and Scout leaders.

The majority of arrests are for the possession of indecent images. Only 39 of them were registered sex offenders.

More than 430 children, who had been in the "care, custody or control" of the suspects, have been safeguarded.

The operation, the biggest of its kind, involved 45 police forces in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and targeted internet users who access child sex abuse images.

But it has also already led to charges for serious sexual assault.

The arrests in West Yorkshire have been for the possession of indecent images of children.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesman said: "All of the men have been bailed pending continuing inquiries as part of the operation which has been ongoing in West Yorkshire since April."

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Williams said: "West Yorkshire Police has carried out arrests within the West Yorkshire area as part of this national operation and our inquiries at a local level very much remain ongoing.

"This has been a significant national operation in which all forces involved have collaborated closely and used a wide variety of investigative techniques.

"Tackling sexual offences, and in particular sex offending involving children, is an area which West Yorkshire Police has prioritised in recent years and allocated extra resources to. We are committed to investigating all allegations of offences of this type."

During the national operation officers have searched 830 properties and examined more than 9,000 computers, phones and hard drives.

National Crime Agency deputy director general, Phil Gormley, said he was "profoundly disappointed" so many suspects had been arrested.

A harder look needed to be taken at the high number of people accessing child abuse images, he said.

Mr Gormley added: "The alternative is not to look under the stone, and we cannot afford not to look under this stone."

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