Child porn probe tracks church leaders and teachers

A church minister, a priest, and three teachers are among dozens of people being investigated in a child porn crackdown, British police said today.

Twelve people have been arrested in the operation to target alleged internet paedophiles.

Another 80 are being quizzed by detectives following raids across Scotland earlier this month as part of Operation Falcon.

The operation originally began in the US after the FBI identified a website involved in the alleged distribution of pornographic images involving children.

The site is believed to have demanded credit card details from customers to allow access to the illegal images.

Police in the US traced these credit card details to customers around the world and passed the information on to the relevant forces.

Officers from all eight Scottish forces searched a total of 119 premises, seizing 216 computers in the raids, which started on Thursday June 3.

Today, police confirmed that a Church of Scotland minister, a Roman Catholic priest, and three school teachers – including a deputy head – were among those caught up in the operation.

A taxi driver who had responsibility for taking children to and from school is also among those being questioned by police.

Police said a dozen people have been arrested and are in police custody.

Assistant Chief Constable Nicol MacMillan of Strathclyde Police, who led the investigation, said: “This operation, like Operation Ore before it, sends a very powerful message that any kind of child abuse will never be tolerated.

“Viewing sickening images of children being abused is not a victimless crime and the Scottish forces will do everything in their power to track down those responsible for such despicable practices.”

“While inquiries are at a very early stage in relation to the ongoing investigation I can say that we are content with the way it has gone so far,” he said.

The operation involved officers from the eight Scottish Police Forces and the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency and took meticulous planning, Mr MacMillan said.

“An operation of this size that takes in all eight Scottish forces is never easy. A lot of work has gone into making Operation Falcon a success.

“I must emphasise that child protection issues were at the forefront of our minds at all times.

“It is not just about targeting internet paedophiles in Scotland but protecting children at risk and we must never lose sight of that,” he added.

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