Scotland police: Hundreds of children targets of online sexual abuse

(CNN)Police in Scotland have arrested 77 people after more than 500 children were identified as potential victims of online sexual abuse.

Officials said about 30 million indecent images were uncovered during Operation Lattise, with those arrested facing charges that include rape, sharing indecent images of children, grooming for a sexual purpose, indecent communication with children, bestiality and drug offenses.
The youngest of the 523 potential victims was 3 years old.
The operation, which involved 134 separate investigations, was carried out between June 6 and July 15. Nearly 400 charges have been lodged. According to police, victims had been located after the homes of 83 suspects and 547 computers and other devices had been seized.
One of the computers found by police reportedly featured 10 million images of child abuse. It will take four full-time officers six months just to view the images uncovered.
“Online child sexual abuse is a national threat — the reality is it is happening now, not only in Scotland but across the world, to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers,” said Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham.
“Online child sexual abuse is not a victimless crime: children, from toddlers to teenagers, are being sexually abused and exploited now in Scotland and when an image or video clip is shared or viewed, they are being re-victimized” he said.
Police revealed that more than 100,000 chat logs had been assessed and 122 children had been referred for the purposes of child protection.




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According to figures from the force, recorded offenses are increasing each year.
In 2014-15, there were 23 offenses of grooming children for the purposes of sexual offenses — that figure increased by 117% last year, when it jumped to 50.
When it came to taking, distributing or possessing indecent images of children, reported offenses rose from 605 in 2014-15 to 645 the following year.
“I’ve got a simple message for perpetrators — you engage in this type of activity, you will be caught,” Graham told a press briefing.
“The internet doesn’t offer anonymity to people. We know people who would seek to commit this type of crime will increasingly try to find ways of not being caught, devious ways and using technology in a sophisticated fashion.”


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