OCSAE Unit officer searching a suspect's address

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Met Police

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Officers seized material from suspects during the lockdown

The Met Police has arrested 45 suspected paedophiles since the lockdown began, new figures reveal.

Specialist officers safeguarded 92 people in the first four weeks after 23 March, when severe restriction on people’s movement were put in place.

Over the same period the Met’s Online Child Abuse and Exploitation Unit (OCSAE) received 202 reports of crimes.

There is an “increased threat” of child abuse as people spend more time online, the force said.

Donald Findlater, head of anti-child abuse charity Stop It Now!, said: “We have seen an increase in the use of pornographic sites because of isolation measures.

“We know this can be a precursor for some men with addictions to move into illegal child abuse material.”

Officers believe that any increase in offending taking place now will not be reflected in the official figures until the months to come.

‘Vulnerable child’

Met figures revealed that 2,200 indecent images of children were reported in 2019.

The OCSAE has more than 200 specialist officers embedded in each of London’s 12 local police networks.

Det Supt Helen Flanagan said: “Officers have been working around the clock since the pandemic started to proactively identify and pursue online offenders and protect children and young people.

“Online offenders can consider themselves less harmful than ‘real life’ abusers as they hide behind a screen, but there is a vulnerable child at the heart of every indecent image or video.”

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