This year, specialist officers working in Northamptonshire Police’s Online Child Abuse Investigation Unit (OCAIU) have protected 257 children from predators.
The OCAIU sits within the Force’s Protecting Vulnerable People Command and works to target people who view and distribute indecent images of children, or who groom, incite or facilitate sexual activity with children through use of the internet, and bring them to justice.
In 2023, the team safeguarded 257 children, arrested 130 people, secured 39 charges, executed multiple warrants, and achieved numerous convictions.
Head of the unit, Detective Inspector Matt Haworth, said: “Everyone who works in the OCAIU comes to work every day with the same passion and drive to protect and safeguard the children in this county.
“This year’s results are, once again, a reflection of that determination, and I am very proud of the team for their work.”
During the year, the convictions secured by the team include a 54-year-old man sentenced to five years in prison for a number of charges including seven counts of making indecent images of children and causing/inciting a girl to engage in sexual activity.
A 57-year-old man was sentenced to three years in prison in connection with charges including attempting to arrange/facilitate the commission of a child sex offence.
Whilst a 40-year-old man was sentenced to life in prison with a minimum of eight years and four months as a result of a Bedfordshire Police investigation after the team in Northamptonshire examined his devices as part of an earlier investigation and found evidence of serious offences.
Detective Inspector Haworth continued: “We know how emotive this type of crime is to the public and how much they want to see us taking action against the people who would look to harm their children.
“I hope these results demonstrate our determination to do just that and I want to reassure people that it is our intention to bring you similarly positive results and proactivity throughout 2024.
"Our message to offenders is simple - we will identify you, find you, arrest you and bring you to justice.”