Avon and Somerset Police’s specialist teams carried out a day of action as part of Safer Internet Day, checking the internet enabled devices of registered sex offenders (RSOs).
The sex offender management teams seized 48 devices on Monday and Tuesday (8 / 9 Feb 2021) from a number of RSOs and carried out close forensic and manual examinations to check for anything that may indicate a relapse in their offending behaviour.
Of the work carried out on the 48 devices the teams uncovered:
- Two with pictures assessed to be Indecent Images of Children. These will now be submitted for full examination by our Digital Forensics Unit
- One with evidence of elimination software being used which could amount to a breach of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order
- One with borderline material which could indicate that a relapse into offending is imminent
- One with internet search history which could indicate that a woman in a relationship with an RSO could be at risk of coming to harm
- One indicating that the user has researched how to access the dark web
The teams are now re-scanning 241,000 images discovered yesterday using specialist key word searches which could reveal further offences or behaviour which could lead to offences being committed.
No arrests have currently been made but words of advice have been given to a number of individuals and arrests are likely to me made in the coming days once further investigative work has been carried out.
Detective Chief Inspector Dickon Turner who runs Avon and Somerset Police’s Integrated Offender Management teams said: “Yesterday’s work by the specialist sex offender management teams is a brilliant example of the preventative work we do to keep children and vulnerable people safe from harm.
“As well as our proactive educational work with parents, young people and the professionals who work with them, a key element to reducing risk is managing the behaviour of RSOs.
“There are over 2300 RSOs in Avon and Somerset with many offenders having to stay on the register for five years, ten years or sometimes even life. This, along with the fact that the number of referrals coming into our internet child abuse team has also increased over the past five years, and we are all spending so much more time online generally, means the work to manage offenders’ behaviour is more important than ever.
“It may surprise some people to know that not all sex offenders are paedophiles and many don’t fit the stereotypes and may be in loving relationships, holding down jobs and families. There is usually a reason behind their offending such as trauma, abuse or mental health problems, all of which we work to understand and help to manage in order to protect children and vulnerable people.
“A lot of the RSOs we work with tell us that they wish someone had intervened before their behaviour crossed the line into offending. There are signs to look out for that someone you know may be pursuing potentially illegal or sexually predatory behaviour online and organisations which can offer help and support.
“Please follow your instincts – if something doesn’t feel right, the chances are it isn’t. Supporting someone to get help could stop a child coming to harm.”
For more information and support:
- stopitnow.org.uk has specific advice and support for offenders and their friends and families and is part of the Lucy Faithfull Foundation who work to tackle child sexual abuse
- https://stopso.org.uk/ – an organisation that works to stop child abuse before it starts, working with perpetrators and survivors of sexual abuse and those at risk of turning thought into action