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PSNI steps up targeted searches to crack down on CSE

The PSNI Child Internet Protection Team have increased the number of targeted searches they are carrying out.

PSNI officers have carried out more than 145 overt searches in 2022 in a bid to crack down on Child Sexual Exploitation.

The Service’s Child Internet Protection Team seized thousands of devices and recovered tens of thousands of indecent images of children.

These searches resulted in 56 arrests, almost 20% more than 2021.

In total, 83 child predators were convicted in Northern Ireland last year.

Detective Chief Inspector Kerry Brennan has warned against the consequences of more children having unsupervised internet access.

“Children now have access to numerous digital devices at home, meaning they are at greater risk to be targeted by online predators with sinister intentions,” DCI Brennan said.

“We have specially trained detectives policing our online spaces and wider community on a daily basis, but child sexual exploitation remains challenging to investigate as it often goes underreported, hidden in plain sight.

“Child predators are incredibly manipulative and often children do not even realise that they are being exploited and abused.”

Sexual communication with a child online has increased by more than 30% from 2021, while the possession and sharing of indecent images increased by more than 20%.

“On top of continuing to target, search and arrest perpetrators, we are also working with youth workers, members of the hospitality and night-time economy sector and parents/guardians to educate on how spot the signs of CSE,” DCI Brennan added.

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