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Three arrested in total
West Midlands Police have raided six addresses as part of a nationwide police operation, co-ordinated by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, to target known and suspected child sex offenders.
Over the last two days (12 and 13 June) a total of 35 officers have executed warrants across the force area in Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Solihull, Sandwell and Dudley.
The action has resulted in three people being arrested and four children being safeguarded and protected from abuse.
A 47-year-old man was arrested in Wolverhampton, a 37-year-old man was arrested in Dudley and a 38-year-old man was arrested in Sandwell – all on suspicion of downloading indecent images of children. All three were later released on police bail with strict conditions pending further enquiries. Computers were seized from all addresses.
Operation Tharsley was a joint operation between 42 police forces and officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in a bid to crack down on those individuals thought to be in possession of child abuse images.
The suspects in the West Midlands were identified as a result of local investigations as well as some intelligence received directly from CEOP.
All of the warrants conducted by WMP related to image offences, including the possession and distribution of indecent images of children (IIOC).
Detective Inspector Kay Wallace, from West Midlands Police's Child Online Safeguarding Team, said: "This type of work is going on every day across the West Midlands as we seek to tackle those who use the internet as a vehicle to offend against children – be it grooming for sexual activity or making, possessing or distributing indecent images.
"We are committed to arresting suspects, seizing images and ensuring our children are protected from abuse."
Andy Baker, Deputy Chief Executive of CEOP, said: "It is clear that those who possess indecent images also pose a significant risk to children and understanding and managing that risk is not an easy undertaking. However, when we bring together the latest intelligence picture, nationally coordinated police action and operational support from our colleagues in SOCA, we are making the UK a more hostile place for those who are seeking to exploit our children.
"If offenders think that collecting child abuse images is something they can get away with, they need to think again. Theses arrests show once again how law enforcement is becoming increasingly coordinated, sophisticated and innovative in targeting those who commit these crimes."
"Operation Tharsley highlights the excellent work carried out by UK police forces on a daily basis and I've seen first-hand the passion and dedication of officers investigating these cases. With our transition into the National Crime Agency, we will continue to support forces with child abuse investigations and enhance the UK's response in combating child sexual exploitation"