'We will work with so-called paedophile hunters', vows police chief
Officers will work with so-called paedophile hunters because any other move would ‘lose in the court of public opinion’, a police boss has said.
West Midlands Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Louisa Rolfe made the announcement at the force’s policing and crime strategic panel this week, while responding to a question asked over the vigilante groups.
It follows comments from the UK’s lead police officer on child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who said forces would potentially work with the groups, but also encourage them to stop operating.
More than 44 per cent of cases of the crime of meeting a child following sexual grooming used vigilante group evidence in 2016, compared to 11 per cent two years before.
Ms Rolfe said: “We work very carefully adhere to the national guidelines set by Simon Bailey, the national lead for child abuse investigations.
“But we’re also mindful of losing in the court of public opinion if we decide we can’t work with individuals who are going out of their way to identify those who may be putting children at risk.
“We will always want to hear from people who believe they have identified something but what we don’t do is rely on them to undertake the investigations themselves.”
Ms Rolfe said it was not just about the investigation but also ensuring the victim was protected, too.
“Therefore, we work very carefully but we certainly don’t reject or turn away people who are coming forward with information well intentioned that might enable us to protect victims and bring offenders to justice,” she said.
Vigilante groups often trap suspected paedophiles by pretending to be a young girl or boy online, before arranging a meet-up in a public place. The police are then called to the incident.