Horrific: 523 potential child sex abuse victims

More than 500 children have been identified as potential victims of online sexual abuse during a major investigation by Police Scotland.

The force said 30 million indecent images were uncovered and 77 people had been charged during Operation Latisse.

The charges include rape, sharing indecent images of children and grooming for sexual purposes.

Of the 523 potential victims, some as young as three, 122 have been referred to child protection services.

The operation, which involved 134 separate investigations, was carried out between the 6 June and 15 July.

Police said child victims had been found after the homes of 83 suspects were searched and 547 computers and other devices seized during the five-week operation.

Almost 400 charges have been brought so far, including rape, sharing indecent images of children, grooming for sexual purposes, sexual extortion, indecent communication with children, possession of a firearm, bestiality and drugs offences.

In one instance, a computer that featured 10 million images depicting child abuse was found. Police Scotland said it would take four full-time officers six months just to view the number of images uncovered.

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, who led the investigation, said: “This is not sexting in terms of people sending abusive messages to each other.

“This is children being sexually abused and these images being shared.

“It is about real victims in Scotland and elsewhere. It’s about these horrific acts which ruin people’s lives and we need to make sure that stops.”

The investigation involved officers analysing in excess of 100,000 online chat logs.

Examination of one device led officers to conclude that one adult suspect had been sexually communicating with more than 110 children and young people.

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