Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP)
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International paedophile network smashed as private Facebook group infiltrated
Ian Green, a 45 year old Registered Sex Offender from Worthing who coordinated the international network, has today been sentenced to four years in prison and served with Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO), after pleading guilty at Chichester Crown Court to making (six counts); possessing (one count); distributing (seven counts) and view to distributing (10 counts) child abuse images. He was also found guilty of breaching his requirements on the Sex Offenders Register.
Green was a key target in Operation ENRANK, known internationally as Operation OCEAN, which has lead to two UK children being safeguarded and five further suspected offenders being arrested in the UK.
The operation was initiated by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) and led in the UK by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre and Sussex Police. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were also involved in the operation. A total of 11 arrests have taken place internationally .
The investigation began when intelligence from the AFP indicated that an individual in the UK was in charge of a number of private groups on Facebook containing thousands of images of children suffering horrific abuse.
CEOP investigators infiltrated the network and discovered that Ian Green, who is unemployed, was enabling carefully selected contacts to access up to three of these private groups. At the point at which contacts were able to demonstrate their trustworthiness to Green – usually through adding their own child abuse images - he would facilitate access to the next group. Each group contained more extreme images and films of child sexual abuse. Green used a multitude of false Facebook profiles, group accounts and email addresses to download and distribute vile images which were shared on his homepage (‘wall’) and in his mailbox.
Green was arrested by Sussex Police who initiated a specific investigation to gather evidence of his offences. Further police activity lead detectives to identify five additional suspects in the UK and a further nine suspects overseas, with investigations still underway.
Jim Gamble, Chief Executive of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre, said:
“This network was made up of people who share an interest in viewing extremely disturbing images of children suffering horrific abuse. All the officers working on this investigation – both in the UK and in Australia, Canada and elsewhere – shared a unwavering determination to safeguard children affected by this network and to bring those involved to justice. Offenders are not limited by their geography and neither are we. Operation ENRANK should send a clear message to others who think that online environments offer them anonymity in their offending. Everything you do leaves a digital footprint.
“However partnership between law enforcement is only part of the solution. We are also working with service providers, parents and children to get everyone thinking about how to make the internet safer. So please work with us. If you are a parent, guardian, carer or a child and if you are using sites such as Facebook they are great places to be but also places where you might suspect things you find. Don’t hide those suspicions. Add our CLICKCEOP app – www.facebook.com/clickceop - and join our page so you can access our very latest advice and help and make reports to us as soon as you have a worry. If you are on other sites look out for the CLICKCEOP icon – it is there to help, reassure and make a difference.”
DC Martin Harmer from Sussex’s Police’s Paedophile Online Investigation (POLIT) Team said:
"As a result of information given to us by CEOP, Green was arrested by Sussex officers and we then set about gathering evidence in relation to his crimes. This was a particularly disturbing case – Green cleverly set up private Facebook accounts containing images of child abuse and then gave access to other paedophiles.
"Every child depicted in images such as these is a victim. We’ll continue to work tirelessly with other organisations such as CEOP to ensure that we identify those who perpetuate these vile crimes, and ensure they get the justice they deserve."
Australian Federal Police (AFP) National Manager Commander, Neil Gaughan, heralded the operation for the successful co-operation between international law enforcement agencies.
“Criminal activity of this type is often described as a borderless crime because there’s no geographical restriction on where offenders may try to target their victims. Policing in this social networking environment is a challenge, but the co-operation during this operation demonstrates that international law enforcement is united in a global fight against online child exploitation material. In this case, Facebook deactivated the online accounts of the initial suspects. But there were indications that, within hours, the groups were reforming again under new accounts. The investigation should serve as a warning to both social networking providers and users. It is important that content service providers including Facebook constantly scan for child exploitation material.”
A spokesperson from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said;
"The RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre is committed to working with its international policing partners. Project Ocean is a clear demonstration of how international co-operation can help ensure that child sexual offenders are brought to justice."
"One of our most effective strategies against Internet-facilitated child sexual abuse is cooperation. No single agency can deal with this crime in isolation. We continually work together with our partners to ensure the safety and security of children, regardless of where they live."
Notes to Editors
To download an image of Ian Green and CEOP footage, follow this link
Sussex Police Press Office 01273 404173 / 07788 415885
CEOP Press Office 0870 000 3434
For operational reasons we are unable to disclose the areas in which the six UK arrests have been made. Operation ENRANK is known as Operation OCEAN in other international jurisdictions.
The CEOP Centre is the national law enforcement agency that works online and offline to protect children from sexual abuse. For more information www.ceop.police.uk
The CEOP Centre launched the ClickCEOP application in Facebook on 12 July 2010 which provides access for users to the help, advice and reporting pages of the CEOP Centre. For more information and to take part in an online safety surgery in August view www.facebook.com/clickceop
CEOP launched the ClickCEOP app in Facebook on 12 July. In one month: -
- 55,000+ downloads of the ClickCEOP app
- 20,000+ people getting regular online safety updates in Facebook
- 5,000+ people have accessed help, advice and support from CEOP via the new app
For the more information on the ClickCEOP application see: - http://www.ceop.police.uk/mediacentre/pressreleases/2010/ceop_12082010.asp