16:39 16 January 2014
In 2012, Northamptonshire Police have visited the home of Timothy Ford, a registered sex offender and found a number of indecent videos on his computer and a collection of DVDs recorded from webcams. This led to the launching of Operation Endeavour, which aimed to crack an organised group targeting children from developing countries.
As a result of this operation, 17 Britons were arrested and a Philippine web abuse ring was smashed. There is another ongoing investigation involving men who pay to see abuse via webcams which has so far yielded 733 suspects; 139 of whom are Britons.
The National Crime Agency said that this is an emerging threat to developing countries.
It said: "Extreme poverty, the increasing availability of high-speed internet and the existence of a vast and comparatively wealthy overseas customer base has led to organised crime groups exploiting children for financial gain."
The Philippine investigation saw British officers work with US Immigration and Custom Enforcement and Australian Federal Police. This operation has resulted to another 29 arrests in other countries including 11 people suspected of facilitating the abuse in the Philippines.
According to reports, there were some 15 children aged six to 15 who were rescued in the Asian country. A total of £37,500 in payments was uncovered by the investigation. In some instances, relatives of the abused children were being paid.
Deputy Director Andy Baker said: "This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with.
"Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt. In my mind they are just as responsible for the abuse of these children as the contact abusers overseas.
"Protecting the victims of abuse is our priority and that means attacking every link in the chain, from dismantling the organised groups who are motivated by profit through to targeting their customers."
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