Police arrest 660 suspected paedophiles across the UK
'Unprecedented' operation led to the arrest of teachers, doctors, scout leaders and former police officers
A six-month investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) has resulted in the arrest of 660 suspected paedophiles, including doctors and teachers.
The "unprecedented" operation, targeting people who have accessed child abuse images online, has led to more than 400 children being protected, the BBC reports.
"This is the first time the UK has had the capability to coordinate a single targeted operation of this nature", said Phil Gormley, the NCA deputy director general.
Out of those arrested only 39 were registered sex offenders, with the majority having had no previous contact with the police. Charges brought so far range from possessing indecent images of children to serious sexual assault.
The NCA said those arrested included teachers, doctors, scout leaders and former police officers, but stressed that no former or serving MPs or members of the government had been detained.
The Guardian reports that one of the suspects is a foster carer with no previous record who was caring for vulnerable children at the time of their arrest. Another suspect was a doctor who allegedly had over one million child abuse images on his computer.
Grimly said the operation targeted those accessing indecent images online because some "go on to abuse children directly". The operation was not solely about catching child abusers, it was about "influencing potential offenders before they cross that line", he said.
"We want those offenders to know that the internet is not a safe anonymous space for accessing indecent images, that they leave a digital footprint, and that law enforcement will find it."