Scottish police uncover 30 million images of child abuse

They were discovered through Operation Lattise, which ran for 6 weeks in June and July 2016

Scottish police uncover 30 million images of child abuse

File photo

A major operation by Police Scotland has identified 523 children as potential victims of online sexual abuse.

Operation Lattise, which was carried out between June 6th and July 15th, has recovered over 30 million indecent images.

134 investigations led to raids on the homes of 83 suspects and police seized over 500 devices, including smartphones, hard drives and tablets.

77 people have been arrested so far, and have been charged with offences including rape, sexual extortion, grooming and sharing indecent images of children.

122 out of the 523 victims or potential victims have been referred to child protection services. Their ages range from between three and 18.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham said Operation Lattise was about "shining a light on the scale of this issue".

"There's a growing problem with online child abuse in Scotland," he said.

"It is a national threat that has a global reach and everything we're doing needs to be focused on preventing this.

"The reality is it is happening now, not only in Scotland but across the world, to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers."

He added: "Let me make it clear - child sexual abuse and exploitation, which can range from sharing images depicting the rape, sexual torture or assault of a child to grooming or sexually extorting a child takes place solely because of decisions made on the part of the abuser.

"Online child sexual abuse is not a victimless crime: children, from toddlers to teenagers, are being sexually abused and exploited now in Scotland and when an image or video clip is shared or viewed, they are being re-victimised."

Police Scotland have introduced 'Web Constables' as part of their commitment to tackling online child sexual abuse.

PC Murphy explained: "The Web Constables are a network of officers who have a keen drive to support the online safety message and spread it to members of the public.

"It's a network that allows us to share best-practice right across Scotland and help to promote that message."

Additional reporting by IRN