“PREDATORS who prey on the vulnerable need to be brought to justice.”

Those are the words of a top policeman who is leading Dorset’s crackdown on internet paedophiles.

Acting Detective Superintendent and Director of Public Protection Chris Naughton, pictured inset below, who is heading up the newly-formed Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT), said there will be ‘zero tolerance’ for criminals using the internet to participate in child abuse.

The unit, which draws in specialist officers from across the force, has already put one offender behind bars.

Mark Luscombe, 29, of Verwood, was sentenced to five years in prison in January for sexual offences against children.

Since the POLIT launched in November last year, there have been 37 crime referrals, and six people have been charged with sex offences.

Det Supt Naughton said: “There are three strands that we are keen to reinforce.

“The first is that of internet safety. This is where it all begins, and where paedophiles can find their young victims.

“The internet is an absolutely wonderful resource, and people should be able to enjoy it. But awareness of what goes on online is vital. There are people out there who want to groom and sexually exploit children, and the message here is simply do not let them have that opportunity.

“The second message is to those who download images of children online. There are many who can’t connect what they are doing with abuse, but by accessing that image of a child being abused, tortured or raped, the offender is revictimising that youngster.

“If you download images, we will find you and we will bring you to justice. We’d also like to tell anyone who has sexual urges towards children to get help now.

“Get control of the situation before it becomes too late.”

Officers drawn into POLIT work exclusively for the unit, and Det Supt Naughton admitted they face the darkest corners of the internet each and every day.

All have mandatory health monitoring sessions to help them cope, but the policeman said that it is “the most rewarding line of police work when a dangerous offender is prosecuted”.

“This is a priority for Dorset Police, and it is very important to each and every one of the officers who work in the team,” he added.

“We are all dedicated to tackling this menace.”

Martyn Underhill, Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, said: “One of my highest priorities for this year is to raise greater awareness of cybercrime.

“Wherever I go in Dorset, the public have made it quite clear that they are worried by cybercrime and online fraud.

“In last year's community crime survey, the public in Dorset listed cybercrime as their number one concern. The government and the south west region of police forces have identified that this is the most significant emerging threat to our residents. Equally important are the issues of sexting and identity theft.

“Cyber education cannot start too young. It is important that we teach children of the dangers on the web and to use the internet safely.”

Snared in US police sting

Mark Luscombe, pictured, was sentenced for eight counts of making indecent photographs of a child, five counts of distributing indecent photographs of a child, sexual activity with a child and arranging or facilitating the commission of a child sex offence.

He also pleaded guilty to another offence of possessing an extreme pornographic image in court.

Luscombe was snared after asking an American officer – posing as the father of an 11-year-old girl – to assault his daughter live via webcam for him.

He ‘paid’ for the request with around 50 images depicting the abuse of children.

Pervert made over 20,000 vile pictures and films

A Bournemouth man will be sentenced today after admitting making more than 20,000 indecent pictures and movies of children.

Benjamin John Ashman, 36, pleaded guilty to 30 counts relating to child and animal pornography at Bournemouth Crown Court in March.

Ashman, of Hyde Road, made nearly 20,000 indecent images and almost 650 movies at levels one to five – the most extreme – and also had in his possession 46 extreme pornographic images and 31 movies involving animals.

He also admitted taking and distributing an indecent level one image of a child, and distributing four other lower-level images.

Abuse streamlined live over a 'hidden web'

A ‘HIDDEN’ internet used by criminals to access live online child abuse will become a growing threat over the next three years.

The first nationwide assessment by the National Crime Agency (NCA) found that paedophiles will increasingly use the ‘hidden web’ – internet content that is not accessed by popular search engines – to access images of child abuse.

The report said: “The online streaming of real-time child sexual exploitation and abuse is a growing threat.

“Cyber techniques have proliferated and are used ever more extensively by wider serious and organised crime groups to commit ‘traditional’ crimes.”

The head of professional practice at the College of Policing, Giles Herdale, said 6,000 detectives will be trained this year specifically in tackling online crime.

He added: “The National Crime Agency’s report shows that as the internet has changed how many people communicate, organise and trade, it has also brought criminals new opportunities.

“The speed at which these changes have taken place has challenged the police service to ensure that our officers and staff are equipped with the right skills to tackle crime.

“The College of Policing is taking steps so that knowledge around cybercrime is seen not as a specialism in policing but as a core part of any investigator's knowledge.”

And Dorset Police is keeping up with constantly evolving technology to tackle paedophiles, with social media sites such as Facebook, as well as chatrooms and Skype, often used by offenders.

“This wonderful new age of technology does have a dark side,” said Det Supt Naughton.

“That’s why we’re here. We want to pull the veil back and expose those who operate in the shadows.”

The officer was unable to reveal tactics for dealing with the hidden internet, but said: “We are keeping up with those who use technology to abuse children.”

Worldwide web content that is not part of the ‘surface web’ – also known as ‘deep web’ – can only be accessed using dedicated software.

The term refers to a collection of all websites and databases that search engines like Google don’t or can’t index, which is many times larger than the web as we know it in terms of volume of information.