Dear Police Scotland,

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

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."

Police Scotland

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Freedom of Information request Paedophile hunters and online grooming.txt

    2K Download View as HTML

Please accept this message as confirmation that your request has been
received by Police Scotland and will be dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Please note, this mailbox is FOI request only.
Further details are below if you wish to request personal information,
road traffic incident or crime reports, or other non-FOI related
enquiries.

Requesting personal information held by Police Scotland
Applications must be made under GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018. Please
follow this link -
[1]http://www.scotland.police.uk/access-to-...

Road traffic incident or crime report relating to property which has been
damaged and/or stolen
Please click on this link -
[2]http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/f....

Non FOI related queries
Please phone 101 or refer to this link -
[3]http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us

Kind regards

FOI Team
Police Scotland

References

Visible links
1. http://www.scotland.police.uk/access-to-...
2. http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/f...
3. http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us

J Roberts left an annotation ()

'Paedophile hunters' are apparently generating half of all online grooming cases in Scotland:

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

I see the article by Joe Purshouse was first published on 17th June 2020, a month before the Supreme Court handed down judgment in the case of someone caught in Scotland by a team 'paedophile hunters' :

[2020] UKSC 32

http://www.bailii.org/uk/cases/UKSC/2020...

See comment dated 15 July 2020:

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

Some comments also contain links to videos of investigators questioning suspects.

Story from The Independent:

"‘Paedophile hunters’ do not violate right to privacy, Supreme Court rules as convict's appeal dismissed"

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/cr...

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, Dundee, Police Scotland

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

 

Good morning,

Please find attached our response to your recent request for information.

Kind Regards,

FOI Team

show quoted sections

Dear FOI, Dundee,

Thank you for your helpful response and for the useful links.

I found the following in a page headed 'Advice for perpetrators':

'Between 1 Aug 2017 and 31 July 2018 (12 month period) 1,059 men were charged with online offences against children and young people, which included 94 instances of grooming.'

https://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe...

I wish to modify my request based on the above information in the hope of bringing it under the cost threshold.

1. For the year 2019/20, please provide the number of arrests made in connection with all instances of online grooming offences by adults against children.

2. For the year 2019/20, please provide the number and names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups associated with the online grooming offences identified in 1.

Yours sincerely,

D. Moore

D. Moore left an annotation ()

'A new taskforce set up to tackle online child sexual abuse has already made 39 arrests in its first four-weeks of operation from 1st September.
Of the 39, 37 resulted in the recovery of material relating to online child sexual abuse and exploitation. 

All of those arrested were men ranging in age from 15 to 76 years old.
Internet grooming and online child sexual abuse (CSA) remains a priority for Police Scotland.

Assistant Chief Constable Judi Heaton, Lead for Major Crime, Public Protection and Local Crime, said:

From next week Police Scotland will run the next phase of its online child sexual abuse campaign #GetHelpOrGetCaught, which signposts offenders or potential offenders to Stop It Now! Scotland for help to stop or prevent offending.

A total of 1,036 online child sexual abuse crimes were recorded between April and September, according to Police Scotland’s 2010-21 Quarter 2 Performance Report, an increase of 18.4% on the previous year and 35.8% above the five year mean.'

https://www.scotland.police.uk/what-s-ha...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

Links to some recent 'stings' by Scottish paedophile hunters can be found here:

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

Dear FOI, Dundee,

Please update me on how my request of 6 February 2021 is progressing.

'1. For the year 2019/20, please provide the number of arrests made in connection with all instances of online grooming offences by adults against children.

2. For the year 2019/20, please provide the number and names of all so-called paedophile hunting groups associated with the online grooming offences identified in 1.'

Yours sincerely,

D. Moore

FOI Edinburgh, Police Scotland

OFFICIAL

Good morning,

Thank you for your Freedom of Information request , it has been referenced
as above.

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.  This has
been due to ongoing workplace challenges arising from the current co-vid
pandemic.  However, I am pleased to advise that your request is at the
approval stages and I hope to have a response to you at some point next
week.

Kind regards

Kim Skirving
Information Disclosure Officer
Information Management
Corporate Services
Police Scotland/Poileas Alba
Fettes Avenue
Edinburgh
EH4 1RB

Tel / Fòn - 07747373834

Email/Post-d: [email address]
Website / Làrach-lìn: www.scotland.police.uk
Twitter: @policescotland
Facebook: www.facebook.com/policescotland

show quoted sections

FOI Edinburgh, Police Scotland

OFFICIAL

Good morning,

 

Thank for your Freedom of Information request, it has been referenced as
above.

 

Please accept my apologies for the delay in responding to you.  This has
been due to ongoing working challenges arising from the co-vid19
pandemic.  However, I am happy to advise that your response is currently
at the approval stages and I hope to have a response with you soon.

 

Kind regards

 

Kim Skirving

Information Disclosure Officer

Information Management

Corporate Services

Police Scotland/Poileas Alba

Fettes Avenue

Edinburgh

EH4 1RB

 

Tel / Fòn 07747373834

 

Email/Post-d: [1][email address]
Website / Làrach-lìn: [2]www.scotland.police.uk
Twitter: @policescotland
Facebook: [3]www.facebook.com/policescotland

 

 

From: FOI, Dundee
Sent: 31 March 2021 09:29
To: FOI Edinburgh <[email address]>
Subject: FW: 21-0011 FOI Response [OFFICIAL]

 

OFFICIAL

Morning Edinburgh

21-0277 refers

Regards
Heather
Dundee

show quoted sections

FOI Edinburgh, Police Scotland

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

Dear D. Moore,

Please find the response to your FOI request attached.

Please accept my apologies for the lateness of our response.

Kind regards

FOI Team

show quoted sections

Dear Police Scotland,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Police Scotland's handling of my FOI request 'Paedophile hunters and online grooming'.

You wrote:

'However, the exemption that I consider to be applicable to the information requested by you is section 38(1)(b) - Personal Data'

I do not consider that the information I have requested is personal data. I have requested the names of groups that tend to publicise their activities online. Anti-paedophile groups I am aware of who have 'caught' suspected paedophiles in Scotland include Wolf Pack Hunters UK, Innocent Voices, Maximum Exposure UK, Child Online Safety Team, SGTI, Keeping Kids Safe, Justice4Kids, The Forbidden Scotland, Decoy North, Child Protectors Scotland, Dark Justice and Groom Resistors Scotland. Stories about such groups are plentiful in the media. For example:

"Supreme Court ruling 'seen as green light for paedophile hunters'"

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/1858...

"Vigilante ‘paedophile hunters’ caught same man twice in five months"

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/new...

"Paedophile hunters ‘uncover half of child grooming cases’"

https://news.stv.tv/scotland/paedophile-...

"Glenmore Lodge instructor exposed as pervert by paedo hunters"
https://www.strathspey-herald.co.uk/news...

"Highland man snared by paedophile hunters avoids jail sentence"

https://www.pressandjournal.co.uk/fp/new...

I also note from your response the absence of any attempt on your part to contact the groups concerned to see if they would object to having their names disclosed. They may have no objections at all.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address: https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/p...

Yours faithfully,

D. Moore

Police Scotland

1 Attachment

  • Attachment

    Internal review of Freedom of Information request Paedophile hunters and online grooming.txt

    3K Download View as HTML

Please accept this message as confirmation that your request has been
received by Police Scotland and will be dealt with under the terms of the
Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Please note, this mailbox is FOI request only.
Further details are below if you wish to request personal information,
road traffic incident or crime reports, or other non-FOI related
enquiries.

Requesting personal information held by Police Scotland
Applications must be made under GDPR/Data Protection Act 2018. Please
follow this link -
[1]http://www.scotland.police.uk/access-to-...

Road traffic incident or crime report relating to property which has been
damaged and/or stolen
Please click on this link -
[2]http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/f....

Non FOI related queries
Please phone 101 or refer to this link -
[3]http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us

Kind regards

FOI Team
Police Scotland

References

Visible links
1. http://www.scotland.police.uk/access-to-...
2. http://www.scotland.police.uk/about-us/f...
3. http://www.scotland.police.uk/contact-us

FOI Edinburgh, Police Scotland

1 Attachment

OFFICIAL

Dear D. Moore,

 

Please find the response to your internal review request attached.

 

Kind regards

 

FOI Team

 

show quoted sections

D. Moore left an annotation ()

Some useful information (more England than Scotland):

Home Office counting rules - sexual offences (effective from April 2021)

'Sexual grooming

General Rule: One crime for each child.

Examples

1: A 60 year old male posted photographs of his teenage son on internet chat rooms and posed as his son. Following frequent internet chats with two 13 year old girls he encouraged them to travel to a London Station to meet him for sex.
Two crimes (class 88/1-88A).

2: A sports coach arranges for his 14 year old star pupil to meet up for a winter training week in Spain with him. He is arrested at Heathrow in possession of condoms and lubricants which he admits were for a sexual use on his star pupil.

One crime (class 88/1 –88A

'Principal Crime Example: see General Rules Section F and Annex C.

If a person has sexual activity with a child following grooming, record the substantive sexual offence only. A 40 year old male posted photographs of his teenage son on internet chat rooms and posed as his son. Following frequent internet chats with two 13 year old girls he encouraged them to travel to a London Station to meet him for sex. He has sexual intercourse with one of them and is arrested meeting the other girl.

One crime (class22/12 -22B) and one crime (class 88/1 -88A).'

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

BBC News (13/5/21)

'The body overseeing criminal sentences in England and Wales is proposing treating paedophiles who are caught in stings the same as abusers who harm real children.'

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-57095465

Impact Assessment, The Home Office
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill

Sex offender management (g/h pages 6-7/16-19/24-25/31-34/49-59/75-76/80)

Information on polygraphs (49)

'Government intervention is necessary to address this gap in criminal law and ensure that those that arrange or facilitate child sex offences targeting children under the age of 13 are sentenced considering the additional vulnerability of the intended victims.'

Some things related to Scotland:

'Provide for the enforcement of Scottish Sexual Harm Prevention Orders and Sexual Risk Orders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland' (page 32)

'Scotland still uses orders repealed in England and Wales, SOPOs and RoSHOs, which were replaced by the more effective SHPOs and SROs. Primary legislation from the UK Parliament is required to enable Scottish SHPOs and SROs to be fully reciprocal in other UK jurisdictions, hence Scotland still uses SOPOs, FTOs and RoSHOs as the prohibitions attaching to them are enforceable in the rest of the UK.' (page 52)

'Scottish Fixed Penalty Notices' (page 39)

https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/bi...

D. Moore left an annotation ()

SIC contacted.

D. Moore left an annotation ()

'I refer to my email of 17 May 2021 acknowledging receipt of your application for a decision from the Commissioner relating to your information request of 6 February 2021. Your application appears to be valid in terms of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA)/the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004 (the EIRs). The Commissioner will therefore investigate your complaint.

... it may take up to four weeks (or more) for your case to be allocated to an investigating officer.'

J Roberts left an annotation ()

The Herald 4/6/21

'Online child abuse has been desribed as a "national threat" by police after figures showed a rise in the cyber crime during the last year.

A total of 1,966 online child sex abuse crimes were logged by Police Scotland during 2020-21, a rise of nearly 6% on the previous year and nearly 25% greater than the five-year average.

The force’s performance report notes that 434 children were identified and safeguarded by officers hunting online child abusers during the period between September and March, with 277 people arrested.'

https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/1935...

J Roberts left an annotation ()

You may be interested in this:

'National Police Chiefs’ Council Responding to Online Child Abuse Activists

2.2 Analysis of incidents of activism has revealed a mixed picture. Some activist groups have amended their mode of operation such that they pass packages of information to the police without having real world contact with the person suspected of offending behaviour. Whilst this is a positive development many groups continue to insist on carrying out a physical intervention and only notify the police post or concurrent to the event. This is less desirable for reasons that have been previously articulated. There is an increased prevalence of direct criminality where purported activists have no intention to notify the police but use the opportunity of an encounter to extort or rob.

2.3 The complex, nuanced and often overlapping nature of activism and volunteering make it difficult to be prescriptive as to the approach to be taken. It is not legally practicable for policing to develop memoranda of understanding or protocol of operation with activists without risking claims of abuse of process. Where the state is seen to circumvent statutory regulation by sub-contracting work to public volunteers it is highly likely that criminal prosecution will be stayed.'

https://www.npcc.police.uk/2019%20FOI/NP...