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Paedophile hunters and online grooming

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Dear Dyfed Powys Police,

1a. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 regarding online sexual offences of any kind related to children.

1b. Please provide a breakdown of all the sexual offences associated with these arrests:

e.g. section 8 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 10 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; section 12 of SOA 2003 [insert number] section 14 of SOA 2003 [insert number]; and section 15 of SOA [insert number]; section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 [insert number].

1c. Please specify the number of these arrests that involved at least one child decoy. By 'child decoy' I am referring to an adult who pretends to be a child.

2. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence acquired by your own officers acting as decoys.

3. Please provide the number of arrests you made in 2019/20 in connection with online sexual offences against children based on evidence provided to you by so-called paedophile hunters.

4. Please provide the names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups who provided information to you that led to the arrest of individuals in connection with sexual offences against children in 2019/20.

Yours faithfully,

D Moore

Dyfed Powys Police

Diolch am eich e-bost sydd wedi’i dderbyn gan yr Uned Rhyddid Gwybodaeth
yn Heddlu Dyfed-Powys. Bydd yn cael ei ystyried a’i weithredu fel y bo’n
briodol. Os oes gennych unrhyw ymholiadau mewn perthynas â’r mater hwn,
mae croeso i chi gysylltu â’r Uned Rhyddid Gwybodaeth ar 01267 226596.

Thank you for your e-mail which has been received by the Freedom of
Information Unit at Dyfed Powys Police and will be considered and actioned
as appropriate. Should you have any queries in respect to this matter then
please feel free to contact the Freedom of Information Unit on 01267
226596.

A oeddech chi’n gwybod bod modd cyrchu gwybodaeth ynghylch Heddlu Dyfed
Powys drwy Gynllun Cyhoeddi a Log Datgeliadau Heddlu Dyfed-Powys? Mae’r
ddau ar gael drwy’r dolenni cyswllt isod:

Did you know you can access information about Dyfed Powys Police via the
Dyfed Powys Police Publication Scheme and the Dyfed Powys Police
Disclosure Log? Both are available via the below links:

[1]www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/about-us/guide-to-information/freedom-of-information-unit/

[2]www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/about-us/guide-to-information/requests-and-responses-disclosure-log/

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/abou...
2. file:///tmp/www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/about-us/guide-to-information/requests-and-responses-disclosure-log/

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Joe Purshouse (School of Law, University of East Anglia) has written a paper that seriously questions the activities of so-called paedophile hunters. It is titled: "'Paedophile Hunters’, Criminal Procedure, and Fundamental Human Rights".

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full...

"The muted response of the police, Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), and domestic courts to paedophile hunters is failing to deter their criminality. The article ends with suggestions for reappraisal of existing legal doctrines, law reform, and more rigorous enforcement to control and, in some cases, deter paedophile hunting."

D. Moore left an annotation ()

"'Paedophile hunter' evidence used to charge 150 suspects" (2017)

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-43...

"Strategic review of Police Scotland’s response to online child sexual abuse" (February 2020)

“Almost half of the online grooming cases emanate from the activities of online child abuse activist groups (vigilante groups), who are unregulated and untrained. A more robust proactive capability on the part of Police Scotland would reduce the opportunities for these groups to operate.” (page 5)

https://www.hmics.scot/sites/default/fil...

BBC Radio 4 programme The Untold goes on a "sting" with Leeds-based hunting group Predator Exposure:

"Six of the group went on trial accused of charges including false imprisonment and common assault. They were all found not guilty and emerged from Leeds Crown Court vowing to step up the work that they do."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000hv9p

See the group in action:

https://youtu.be/_gfRmagvltk

Useful information provided by South Yorkshire Police from the Force Disclosure Log:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Radio 4's File on 4 dealt with the issue of female sex offenders in "Women Who Abuse":

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m000rcq5

The programme highlighted the case of a female groomer who was jailed in 2018. Details of her crime are available on the UK Database:

https://uk-database.net/2018/03/22/debor...

Thirty-six police forces responded to FOI requests (5th minute). The responses revealed that between 2015-19:

- there were over 10,400 reports of women sexually abusing children

- Over 5,400 reports concerned children aged 11-17

- around 3,800 reports involved children under 11

(some forces didn't provide information on ages)

A FOI request was also sent to the Disclosure and Barring Service. I have requested a copy of the response received:

https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/f...

"There is evidence more female abusers are being flagged when applying for jobs with children or vulnerable adults than are being reported to the police."

The programme also referred to research by Dr Andrea Darling, who wrote this article on female teachers who abuse pupils:

https://theconversation.com/understandin...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

CPS legal guidance regarding paedophile hunters (July 2020). Paedophile hunting groups are referred to formally as online child abuse activist groups (OCAGs):

'The term OCAGs in this context refers to individuals or groups of individuals who are members of the public using on-line activity to uncover or "catch" alleged paedophiles involved in on-line child sexual abuse or interested in meeting children for the purpose of such abuse. A wide range activity may fall under this umbrella term...'

https://www.cps.gov.uk/legal-guidance/on...

'Police are encouraged to seek early investigative advice (EIA) in all OCAG cases using the EIA process available in each CPS area. This will assist officers to address any complex evidential issues, to focus their investigation and to bring to an early conclusion cases which are unlikely to meet the required evidential standard.'

Recently published Home Office report titled 'Tackling Child Sexual Abuse Strategy'.

'This ground-breaking Strategy sets out the Government’s ambition to prevent, tackle and respond to all forms of child sexual abuse.

5. Our goal is to ensure there are no safe spaces online for offenders to abuse and exploit children. Across the NCA, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), National Cyber Force (NCF) and wider law enforcement, the Home Office will invest in the development of new technological capabilities to bring more technically sophisticated offenders to justice and help our partners identify and safeguard more victims and survivors. This includes enhancing the use of the UK’s world-leading Child Abuse Image Database (CAID).'

https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk...

FOI, Dyfed Powys Police

2 Attachments

SWYDDOGOL OFFICIAL
Dear D Moore,

Reference: 2/2021

I write in respect to your request for information dated and received within the Freedom of Information Unit on the 2nd January 2021 regarding “Paedophile hunters and online grooming”.

Your request for information has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and has now been considered.

Section 1 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 places two duties on public authorities. Unless exemptions apply, the first duty at Section 1(1) (a) is to confirm or deny whether the information specified in a request is held. The second duty at Section 1(1) (b) is to disclose information that has been confirmed as being held.

Dyfed-Powys Police are unable to confirm or deny whether it does hold the information you have requested, since we consider that the Section 12(2) exemption the Cost of Compliance exceeds the Appropriate Limit applies to it.

Where exemptions are relied upon Section 17 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 requires Dyfed-Powys Police, when refusing to provide such information (because the information is exempt) to provide you the applicant with a notice which:
(a) States that fact,
(b) Specifies the exemption in question and
(c) States (if that would not otherwise be apparent) why the exemption applies.

Please see the attached response document which indicates the time estimated by the Force it would take to complete the request as a whole.

In accordance with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, this letter acts as a Refusal Notice for the whole of this request under Section 17(5) A public authority which, in relation to any request for information, is relying on a claim that section 12 or section 14 applies must, within the time for complying with section 1(1), give the applicant a notice stating that fact. You may wish to refine and resubmit your request so that it reduces the time shown above to fall within the 18 hours, however with due regard to the time estimate provided above it is unlikely that refining your request will fall under the 18 hours as the same method and format will have to be undertaken. Should you require any further advice in relation to this matter please don’t hesitate to contact the Freedom of Information Unit.

Please also be advised that should the request be refined, it does not remove the public authorities right to cite exemptions if relevant.

If you are unhappy with the way your request for information has been handled, you can request a review by writing to the Freedom of Information Unit address supplied on the attached appeal process document.

Dyfed-Powys Police provides you the right to request a re-examination of your case under its review procedure (copy enclosed). If you decide to request such a review and having followed the Constabulary’s full process you are still dissatisfied, then you have the right to direct your comments to the Information Commissioner who will give it consideration.

If you remain dissatisfied with the handling of your request or complaint you have a right to appeal to the Information Commissioner at:
The Information Commissioners Office,
Wycliffe House,
Water Lane,
Wilmslow,
Cheshire
SK9 5AF
Tel. 0303 123 1113 or 01625 54 57 45
Website: www.ico.gov.uk

There is no charge for making an appeal.

Should you wish to discuss this matter further please don’t hesitate to contact me as indicated below.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in Dyfed-Powys Police.

Yours sincerely

Lisa Walters
Rheoli Gwybodaeth a Chydymffurfiaeth/ Information Management & Compliance
Heddlu Dyfed-Powys Police
Pencadlys yr Heddlu/Police Headquarters
Caerfyrddin/Carmarthen
Blwch Post 99/PO Box 99
SA31 2PF

Llinell Uniongyrchol/Direct Line:  101 DPP
Est/Ext 23435

E-bost/E-Mail: [email address]

Although every effort will be made to ensure a response is provided within statutory deadlines, due to current circumstances delays may be unavoidable. We apologise for any inconvenience and will endeavour to process your request as quickly as is practicable.

Er y gwneir pob ymdrech i sicrhau y darperir ymateb o fewn terfynau amser statudol, oherwydd yr amgylchiadau presennol, mae’n bosibl na fydd modd osgoi oedi. Ymddiheurwn am unrhyw anghyfleustra. Byddwn yn ceisio prosesu’ch cais cyn gynted ag sy’n ymarferol.

SWYDDOGOL OFFICIAL

Nid yw'r e-bost hwn nag unrhyw ffeiliau a drosglwyddir gydag ef
o angenrheidrwydd yn adlewyrchu barn Heddlu Dyfed-Powys. Bwriedir yr e-bost ar
gyfer y person neu'r sefydliad a enwir uchod. Os derbyniwyd yr e-bost hwn trwy
gamgymeriad, dylid hysbysu'r anfonydd a dileu'r e-bost oddi ar eich system os
gwelwch yn dda. Os na'i fwriadwyd ar eich cyfer chi ac nid chi yw'r cyflogwr
na'r asiant sy'n gyfrifol am roi'r e-bost i'r derbynnydd bwriadedig, fe'ch
hysbysir gan hyn na chaniateir i chi ddefnyddio, adolygu, lledaenu, dosbarthu na
chopio'r e-bost ar unrhyw gyfrif. Archwiliwyd yr e-bost hwn ac unrhyw ffeiliau a
drosglwyddir gydag ef am firws. Serch hynny, dylai'r derbynnydd hefyd
archwilio'r e-bost a'r ffeiliau sydd ynghlwm am firws oherwydd nid yw Heddlu
Dyfed Powys yn derbyn cyfrifoldeb am unrhyw ddifrod a achosir gan unrhyw firws a
drosglwyddir trwy gyfrwng yr e-bost hwn.

This e-mail and any files transmitted with it are not
necessarily the view of Dyfed-Powys Police. It is intended only for the person
or entity named above. If you have received this e-mail in error please notify
the originator and erase this e-mail from your system. If you are not the
intended recipient or the employer or agent responsible for delivering it to the
intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any use, review, dissemination,
distribution or copying of the e-mail is strictly prohibited. This e-mail and
any files transmitted within it have been checked for all known viruses. The
recipient should still check the e-mail and any attachments for the presence of
viruses, as Dyfed-Powys Police accepts no liability for any damage caused by any
virus transmitted by this e-mail.

Mae Heddlu Dyfed-Powys wedi ymrwymo i
ddiogelur rhai hynny sydd fwyaf agored i niwed. Rydym yn gweithio gydag eraill i
fynd ir afael ag ymddygiad syn tanseilio cymunedau cryf, cydlynol ac rydym yn
falch o wasanaethur trefi ar pentrefi mwyaf diogel ar draws Cymru a Lloegr*.
Os ydych o fewn Sir Gaerfyrddin, Ceredigion, Sir Benfro neu Bowys a bod arnoch
angen ein cymorth, rydym eisiau clywed gennych - mae gofalu amdanoch yn bwysig i ni.

*Troseddau fesul pob poblogaeth o 1,000

Dyfed-Powys Police is committed to protecting those who are most vulnerable.
We work closely with others to tackle behaviour which undermines strong,
cohesive communities and, are proud to serve the safest towns and villages across
England and Wales*. If you are within Carmarthenshire, Ceredigion, Pembrokeshire
or Powys and need our help, we want to hear from you We care.

*Crimes per 1,000 population

[ WhatDoTheyKnow note: The above text was badly encoded, and has had strange characters removed. ]

Dear FOI,

2/2021

Thank you for your response and for evidencing the time required to comply with my request.

I wish to refine my request:

1. Number of crime reports for grooming offences recorded with an online marker attached, for 2019/2020.
2. Of which, the number resulting in a charge.
3. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a child decoy.
4. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a police decoy.
5. Of those resulting in a charge, the number involving a paedophile hunter group.
6. The paedophile hunter groups involved.

Yours sincerely,

D. Moore

Dyfed Powys Police

Diolch am eich e-bost sydd wedi’i dderbyn gan yr Uned Rhyddid Gwybodaeth
yn Heddlu Dyfed-Powys. Bydd yn cael ei ystyried a’i weithredu fel y bo’n
briodol. Os oes gennych unrhyw ymholiadau mewn perthynas â’r mater hwn,
mae croeso i chi gysylltu â’r Uned Rhyddid Gwybodaeth ar 01267 226596.

Thank you for your e-mail which has been received by the Freedom of
Information Unit at Dyfed Powys Police and will be considered and actioned
as appropriate. Should you have any queries in respect to this matter then
please feel free to contact the Freedom of Information Unit on 01267
226596.

A oeddech chi’n gwybod bod modd cyrchu gwybodaeth ynghylch Heddlu Dyfed
Powys drwy Gynllun Cyhoeddi a Log Datgeliadau Heddlu Dyfed-Powys? Mae’r
ddau ar gael drwy’r dolenni cyswllt isod:

Did you know you can access information about Dyfed Powys Police via the
Dyfed Powys Police Publication Scheme and the Dyfed Powys Police
Disclosure Log? Both are available via the below links:

[1]www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/about-us/guide-to-information/freedom-of-information-unit/

[2]www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/about-us/guide-to-information/requests-and-responses-disclosure-log/

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/abou...
2. file:///tmp/www.dyfed-powys.police.uk/en/about-us/guide-to-information/requests-and-responses-disclosure-log/

FOI, Dyfed Powys Police

Good Morning

Reference No: 112/2021

Thank you for your request for information dated 06.02.2021 concerning Paedophile hunters and online grooming

Dyfed-Powys Police acknowledge receipt of your request which is being processed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 however, prior to processing the request please would you clarify

Are you requesting full data from 01/01/2019 to 31/12/2020 or for financial year 2019/2020.

After receiving the clarification, your request will then be considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party. If we do not receive clarification from you within 40 working days, then your request will be closed.

There may be a fee payable for the retrieval, collation and provision of the information you request. If this is the case you will be informed and the 20 working day timescale will be suspended until we receive payment from you. If you chose not to make a payment then your request will remain unanswered.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your interest in Dyfed Powys Police and look forward to your response.

Yours sincerely,

Uned Rhyddid Gwybodaeth - Freedom of Information Unit
Pencadlys Heddlu - Dyfed-Powys Police Headquarters
Caerfyrddin - Carmarthen
Ffon/Tel: 01267 222020
E-Bost/E-Mail - [Dyfed Powys Police request email]

Dyfed Powys Police provides you the right to request a re-examination of your case under its review procedure. If you decide to request such a review and having followed the Force’s full process you are still dissatisfied, then you have the right to direct your comments to the Information Commissioner who will give it consideration.

show quoted sections

We don't know whether the most recent response to this request contains information or not – if you are D. Moore please sign in and let everyone know.