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Police arrest 45 over child porn

Date: July 15, 2004
Source: The Guardian
By: David Ward

Police in Greater Manchester yesterday arrested 45 people suspected of downloading pornographic images of children from the internet.

The arrests followed raids at 50 homes from Rochdale to Wigan. More than 500 officers took part in Operation Baglan, and seized a number of computers.

"This morning's raids followed months of intensive investigation," said Det Supt Steve Heywood, who led the operation.

"This is the first wave of a series of actions targeting individuals who, intelligence indicates, had been accessing abusive images of children.

"We will now examine evidence recovered from the raids, and assess individuals to see if they pose a direct risk to the public."

Some downloaded images come from sites rated Level Five - the most serious. Some of those arrested are thought to have software to enable them to swap images without leaving behind credit card details.

Officers will also investigate the backgrounds of individuals to see if they have been involved in child abuse.

"Many people who use the internet believe naively that they can do so anonymously, but specially trained officers in our abusive images unit can detect their activity through a variety of electronic footprints," added Mr Heywood.

"The content of the pictures goes beyond pornography. Hundreds of children will have suffered to have fuelled these sites - accessing these sites is not a victimless crime."

Greater Manchester police claims to have the largest pro-active unit of its kind in the country.

"Members of the public may be shocked by the number of people arrested, but they can be reassured by the actions we have taken."

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