LINCOLNSHIRE Police have been recognised for their significant contribution in the fight against the exploitation of children, after receiving a national award from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre.
Officers who worked on Operation Alpine won an Outstanding Contribution to Online Investigation and Child Protection Award for their work to smash an international child abuse image distribution network spanning 45 countries, which was being run from a tiny Lincolnshire hamlet.
The case came to a conclusion in May last year with the conviction of four men for charges relating to the distribution of child abuse images. Three of the men were later jailed.
The awards, which have been presented to over thirty worldwide organisations and individuals over the last four years, aim to recognise those who have gone the extra mile in tackling the sexual abuse of children. Nominated by staff at CEOP, the winners range from front line police officers to industry organisations, all of whom have a vested interest in the safeguarding of children and young people.
Peter Davies, Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre, said: “I would firstly like to congratulate Lincolnshire Police on behalf of all at CEOP.
“We are a national centre with a huge footprint thanks to the partnerships we have established and the thousands of volunteers who work with us to help fight the exploitation of children.
“We would not be able to achieve the results we do without that inclusive approach and our awards are designed to recognise those who have gone above and beyond in making a difference.”
Lincolnshire Police Assistant Chief Constable Roger Bannister headed up the investigation and was present with the team to receive the award.
He said: “The safety of children was the main focus of Operation Alpine and the real achievement was the protecting and safeguarding of 132 young people in the UK as a direct result of our work.
“None of the offenders, who distributed millions of child abuse images around the world, were previously on the radar of law enforcement agencies before this investigation.
“They will all now be closely monitored and unable to work in positions of trust with young people.
“The wider investigation also identified 211 suspects in the UK and 1,300 worldwide.
“The operation sent out a clear message to anyone distributing child abuse images on the internet. We will find you, arrest you and put you at the disposal of the courts. Our work in this area continues in earnest, as demonstrated by two recent arrests related to the possession and distribution of child abuse images as part of Operation Tharsley, which were publicised locally.
“Lincolnshire Police continues to lead a number of police forces’ work in this area and we have advised policing agencies in Europe and the USA.
“Operation Alpine demonstrated the professionalism and dedication of the team of officers involved over four years and this award is well deserved recognition for them.”