POLICE have explained why they did not arrest a number of suspected paedophiles after being tipped off following a national operation.
Earlier this year, Sussex and Surrey Police received 46 pieces of intelligence from the National Crime Agency and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre that led detectives to potential offenders.
Police executed a total of 35 warrants before the end of July – but have now revealed why further action was not taken in the other cases.
The reasons include insufficient evidence to prosecute and suspects already being identified by detectives before information was received from the national operation.
A spokesman for Sussex Police said: “In six of the cases, the Sussex Police Paedophile Online Investigation Team was already working on linked intelligence and suspects had already been arrested.
“In one other case, there was insufficient material to justify any enforcement action but it has been recorded as intelligence.
“It was assessed that there was insufficient evidence to show that the material constituted any criminal office.
“Two of the Sussex cases pointed to the same person being responsible and in two other cases there was insufficient evidence to make an arrest on the day of the warrants being executed.
“But items were seized and forensic inquiries are continuing.
“In two Surrey cases, arrests had already been made before the referrals were received.”
Thirty-one arrests were made following the warrants, including 24 people who lived in Sussex, for a range of offences relating to the possession and sharing of indecent images of children.
Assistant chief constable Stuart Cundy, of Surrey and Sussex Specialist Crime Command, said: “We have identified and arrested those suspected of using the internet to access indecent images of children.
“This operation aimed to protect children who are, or might be, at risk of sexual exploitation.
“Those who access indecent images should know the internet is not anonymous and we will pursue you.”