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.

Paedophile hunters and online grooming

We're waiting for D. Moore to read a recent response and update the status.

Dear Dorset 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

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."

.Freedom of Information, Dorset Police

Thank you for your email submitted to the Freedom of Information (FOI)
Team for Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police.

 

If your email relates to a new FOI request please accept this
auto-response as a formal acknowledgement.

 

Should we need to clarify any aspect of your request we will contact you
regarding this but please be aware that the 20 working day deadline will
not begin until the clarification has been received.

 

If your email relates to an ongoing request we will respond to your email
as soon as possible.

 

Please note that we are experiencing high volumes of requests and staff
shortages which, in some cases, is impacting on our ability to comply with
the 20 working day statutory deadline. Please be assured that we are
working on all current and outstanding requests and will get a response to
you as soon as possible. Please bear in mind that when we receive
enquiries regarding late requests, responding to these enquiries can cause
further delay and can hinder the Team from restoring compliance with the
statutory timeframe.  

 

Thank you in advance for your patience whilst we work through this
challenging period.

show quoted sections

E-mail should not be regarded as a secure means of communication, we take
all reasonable steps to ensure that e-mails are protected from malware,
but cannot accept liability for any loss or damage, howsoever arising, as
a result of their transmission to the recipients' computer or network.
*************************************************************************
For more information, or to contact us, please visit us at
[1]www.devon-cornwall.police.uk or [2]www.dorset.police.uk or e-mail
[3][email address] or [4][email address]

References

Visible links
1. http://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/
2. http://www.dorset.police.uk/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. mailto:[email address]

J Roberts left an annotation ()

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...

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...

Dorset man interviewed by investigators (12-year-old decoy) :

https://www.bitchute.com/video/XqdIcSF8G...

Dorset man sent to jail (where he died):

"At his sentencing, prosecutor Sadie Rizzo said Bennett’s offending began in 1963 when he indecently assaulted a female under 14..."

https://www.advertiserandtimes.co.uk/pet...

Find videos of of other Dorset men being questioned here:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1...

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...

.Freedom of Information, Dorset Police

3 Attachments

Dear requester,

 

Please find attached the response to your above numbered Freedom of
Information Request.

 

Should you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact me.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

Ally Baxter

Alliance Freedom of Information Officer

Dorset Police Headquarters, Winfrith

Tel: 01202 223 696

Email: [1][email address] or
[2][Dorset Police request email]

 

Alliance Information Management Department

Devon & Cornwall Police and Dorset Police

Working together to serve the public

 

 

show quoted sections

E-mail should not be regarded as a secure means of communication, we take
all reasonable steps to ensure that e-mails are protected from malware,
but cannot accept liability for any loss or damage, howsoever arising, as
a result of their transmission to the recipients' computer or network.
*************************************************************************
For more information, or to contact us, please visit us at
[3]www.devon-cornwall.police.uk or [4]www.dorset.police.uk or e-mail
[5][email address] or [6][email address]

References

Visible links
1. mailto:[email address]
2. mailto:[Dorset Police request email]
3. http://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/
4. http://www.dorset.police.uk/
5. mailto:[email address]
6. mailto:[email address]

Dear Dorset Police,

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

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

Ref: 2021-005

Thank you for the valuable information that you provided. I wish you to review your response to request 4:

'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.'

Your response included this:

'Dorset Police neither confirms nor denies that it holds information relevant to this request by virtue of the following exemptions.

Section 23(5) Information supplied by or concerning certain Security Bodies;
Section 31(3) Law Enforcement
Section 40(5) Personal Information'

Your response referred to two other requests of mine as well, and I assume that section 23(5) relates to them (1c and 2) and not to request 4. If I am wrong about this, I am sure you will let me know!

Regarding section 31(3) I consider that law enforcement tactics would not be compromised and that the public interest in knowing the names of the groups involved is overwhelming. A report by HM Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland titled 'Strategic review of Police Scotland’s response to online child sexual abuse' points to the harm such groups cause and of the need to act to limit their activities:

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

'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)

The public would benefit from disclosure of the names I seek because they would then know the names of groups whose activities the police believe should be curtailed. They would know that these groups are 'unregulated' and 'untrained' and would be in a position to act accordingly. As things stand, the public may confuse a group identifying itself as, say, a 'child protection organisation' as a formal agent of the state. Additionally, without knowing their names there is no way for the public to assess how successful the police are in reducing their capacity to operate. Your lack of transparency could be perceived as a means to conceal a failure on your part to 'reduce the opportunities for these groups to operate'.

Regarding section 40(5), I do not see how it could apply. I am asking not for personal information but for the names of groups. If your view is that the names of group members could be revealed as a consequence of my request, that is something I contest. These groups livestream their activities on Facebook for the whole world to see. Publicity is exactly what they want in their attempts to protect children from paedophiles. For example, here is a 'sting' from your area carried out by the group STOP:

https://www.bitchute.com/video/XqdIcSF8G...

(He died in prison)

And here is another that involved Wolf Pack Hunters UK:

https://www.bitchute.com/video/dknWfqg3u...

Furthermore, it is not evident from your response that you have asked the groups concerned whether they would object to having their names disclosed.

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

.Freedom of Information, Dorset Police

Thank you for your email submitted to the Freedom of Information (FOI)
Team for Dorset Police and Devon & Cornwall Police.

 

If your email relates to a new FOI request please accept this
auto-response as a formal acknowledgement.

 

Should we need to clarify any aspect of your request we will contact you
regarding this but please be aware that the 20 working day deadline will
not begin until the clarification has been received.

 

If your email relates to an ongoing request we will respond to your email
as soon as possible.

 

Please note that we are experiencing high volumes of requests and staff
shortages which, in some cases, is impacting on our ability to comply with
the 20 working day statutory deadline. Please be assured that we are
working on all current and outstanding requests and will get a response to
you as soon as possible. Please bear in mind that when we receive
enquiries regarding late requests, responding to these enquiries can cause
further delay and can hinder the Team from restoring compliance with the
statutory timeframe.  

 

Thank you in advance for your patience whilst we work through this
challenging period.

show quoted sections

E-mail should not be regarded as a secure means of communication, we take
all reasonable steps to ensure that e-mails are protected from malware,
but cannot accept liability for any loss or damage, howsoever arising, as
a result of their transmission to the recipients' computer or network.
*************************************************************************
For more information, or to contact us, please visit us at
[1]www.devon-cornwall.police.uk or [2]www.dorset.police.uk or e-mail
[3][email address] or [4][email address]

References

Visible links
1. http://www.devon-cornwall.police.uk/
2. http://www.dorset.police.uk/
3. mailto:[email address]
4. mailto:[email address]

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.