British police are failing to arrest and investigate a so called ‘anti-paedophile’ vigilante group, despite one group spokesman admitting on BBC Radio that his organisation is knowingly acting “outside of the law”.
The group – whose name we will not publish as we do not believe it deserves publicity on TheOpinionSite.org – admits trapping potential online abusers by posing as teenagers. The suspected offender is then encouraged to meet in person, held against their will and ‘questioned’ by the group who, according to its spokesman, is merely seeking an ‘explanation’ for the individual’s behaviour.
The group proudly claims that its actions so far have has caused 5 “sex offenders” to be arrested – though nothing against the individuals has been proven and none have been charged.
The vigilantes also use a quote from Genghis Khan:
“Had you not created great sins, God would not have sent a punishment like me upon you.”
One might be tempted to comment that this is not the ‘mission statement’ one would expect from an organisation that proclaims that it is “not our intention to hurt anyone”.
Rather interestingly, the group’s Facebook page also has a link to other child protection websites as well as a link to the neo-Nazi English Defence League.
It would seem that the police – always anxious not to offend the Sun and Daily Mail reading public – are prepared to do nothing rather than face claims that the police are not doing their job properly.
The fact is however that as the number of people on the Sex Offender Register continues to increase by anything up to 10% year on year, largely due to the ever-increasing number of ‘historic’ abuse allegations being prosecuted, the number of alleged sex offenders in Britain becomes more and more unmanageable.
Police are finding it almost impossible to monitor offenders in the way in which the government and the public would like; mainly due to a lack of resources as money becomes more and more scarce under the government’s austerity regime.
The police do not wish to admit this as to do so may give those subject to the Sex Offender Notification Requirements more confidence in challenging their own treatment by the police and probation services.
When asked, the police were slow to come forward with any meaningful explanation as to why they were not taking action against vigilantes who, by their own admission, are acting outside of the Law.
For example, a spokesman for Leicestershire Police said:
“While we always encourage members of the public to contact us with any information they have about a crime, officers would advise against taking this kind of action. Investigations and inquiries into potential sex offenders are extremely sensitive and detailed and have to be conducted in a way which ensures that prosecution of an offender isn’t affected.
“Consideration also has to be given to any threats and harm to anyone involved in the investigation, plus family and friends of potential offenders.”
When the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) were asked, their spokesman said:
“We would discourage people from using the internet to do this. It is a stupid idea. There are real dangers that vigilantism will drive people underground and that is exactly what we don’t want. We need to know where sex offenders are.”
If these views are truly those of the police in general, TheOpinionSite.org must ask why the police are not doing something to prevent the actions of these potentially criminal groups who are, apparently, making the job of the police so much more difficult.
Furthermore, as senior prosecution lawyers have suggested, any action by vigilantes – and the manner in which they obtain their ‘evidence’ – may actually damage any chance of real paedophiles being prosecuted.
It is also highly likely that those vigilantes involved have themselves in fact committed serious offences, possible including False Imprisonment and Kidnapping.
There are also other, more sinister aspects to this type of behaviour.
For example, the spokesman for the vigilante group in question, interviewed on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Victoria Derbyshire programme and who claims to come from “the protection industry” (a doorman perhaps?), admitted that his ‘work’ had taken over “most” of his life.
This suggests that he enjoys the feeling of power and gratification that his activities give him.
The growth of anti-paedophile vigilante groups is not however the only matter for concern.
There is also the growing phenomena of “RansomWare” by which innocent individuals receive emails saying that they have been ‘detected’ as having viewed child pornography but, for a fee, their details will be removed from the website’s database.
The natural distrust of the police together with the fear and inevitable personal damage of being accused or investigated – even if completely innocent – together with the personal destruction and suspicion that such measures bring, causes most people to pay up.
If they do not, they receive another email threatening to ‘reveal’ their name to the police unless $500 is paid.
Government have not offered a comment on this form of intimidation and extortion when asked to do so, other than to say it was a matter for the police.
Of equal consideration is that policing in the UK is ‘by consent’.
In other words, the people accept the power of the police (even after the collapse of the associated moral authority caused by recent, well-publicised police dishonesty) provided it is fair and balanced and truly ‘in the public interest’ (as opposed to simply being “of interest to the public”).
Whilst certain populist-leaning sections of the British public and media may believe that vigilantes setting out to hunt down would be paedophiles who allegedly use the Internet to ‘groom’ potential victims is a good thing, the fact that these groups admit operating outside of the Law is not.
Furthermore, their activities would not even be contemplated if it were not for the flawed legislation that creates – but does not define – the very British offence (for no other EU country has such an offence) of ‘grooming’.
If the police know therefore that these vigilantes have admitted flaunting the Law – and the police are indeed well aware as police officers are reportedly involved in the culmination of the ‘sting’ operation – and yet do not take steps to arrest and investigate such groups, they are failing the public as much as they would be were they to ignore allegations of child abuse made through proper channels and in the proper way.
If paedophiles are fair game for vigilantes, who next? Gays, Muslims, Gypsies, Immigrants, Blacks?
Nor should one ever forget the manner in which anti-Jewish vigilante groups were permitted to prosper during Hitler’s rise to power whilst the Rule of Law was quietly destroyed
TheOpinionSite.org believes that it is up to the police to take the necessary action against these self-styled ‘have a go’ pseudo-policemen. Not to do so leaves the way wide open for anyone that has a dislike of any particular social group to take whatever action they consider appropriate.
CEOP, the online protection department of the police, says that catching online-paedophiles is best left to them. However, it would say that at this time as CEOP is about to become absorbed into the newly formed National Crime Agency and is expected to lose most of its money – and its influence.
It is also worth noting that the usually very noisy NSPCC, as well as other protection charities and campaigners – including the self-styled “Dr” Sara Payne of the Sun newspaper – have had nothing to say about the vigilante groups that get such a kick out of playing policemen for their own, egotistical reasons.
TheOpinionSite.org is therefore of the view that the police should come down as hard and as frequently on these ‘anti-paedophile’ vigilantes as they would on any suspected sex offender.
Not to do so will leave the police open to accusations of bias and self-serving indolence.
More importantly however, it may also mean that individuals who truly are a danger to children using the Internet may not in fact be prosecuted; the supposed ‘evidence’ apparently gathered by these vigilantes having been made hopelessly inadmissible in court by those who profess to be protecting children but are in fact feeding their own, over-inflated egos whilst breaking the Law themselves.
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