Police arrested nearly 90 suspected paedophiles across Lancashire in five months as part of a strategy to thwart global child abuse.
The shocking figure is revealed as force continues to work alongside the National Crime Agency (NCA) to use news ways of identifying potential online offenders who download and share images of abuse.
Detective Supt Andy Murphy, head of public protection at Lancashire Constabulary, said: “Protecting the public, especially children, from harm and abuse is an absolute priority for Lancashire Constabulary and with our partners we will continue to proactively target offenders who use the internet to view or exchange indecent images of children and help safeguard those children who have become, or are at risk of becoming, victims.
“Between April and September last year Lancashire Police carried out 75 warrants, made 84 arrests and, importantly, safeguarded 64 children who could have been at risk.
“These arrests show our continuing intent to stop offenders viewing indecent images and abusing children, and a new sophistication in our tactics.
“Many of the people we arrested in this operational activity were not previously known to law enforcement in relation to child abuse.
Many of the people we arrested in this operational activity were not previously known to law enforcement in relation to child abuse
“If we hadn’t gone out looking for them as we have done, they would have remained under the radar and the nearly 70 children we safeguarded would still be at risk.
He added: “In addition to proactively searching for online offenders, we receive around 1,500 referrals a year which we act upon and we will continue to prioritise this work to ensure that we safeguard those at risk.”
A spokesman for the NCA said: “We do a lot of work with local forces to identify offenders who download and share images of children. It is daily business for us. And something we have been trying to pursue since the NCA’s inception in 2014.”