By Cara Sulieman
SICKENED detectives last night warned Scotland’s secret paedophiles: We’re coming to get you.
Cops launched a new crackdown – codenamed Operation Alba – which will for the first time see specialist teams hunt out vile perverts rather than having to wait and react to child sex crimes that have already happened.
Police launched the operation today (Thurs) – the same day two ring-leaders of Scotland’s largest known paedophile ring were sentenced.
Neil Strachan and James Rennie both received life sentences at the High Court in Edinburgh.
They were found guilty of a string of child pornography and abuse charges in May – some of the worst ever committed on these shores.
Detective Chief Inspector Allan Jones from Lothian and Borders Police said that the sentences sent a “strong message”.
He added: “Today represents the conclusion of the trial of the most profilic child abuse network ever indentified in Scotland.
“These sentences send a strong message that any kind of child abuse and exploitation will not be tolerated, and the fight continues to identify such offenders.
“No jail sentence, however lengthy, will ever begin to compensate Strachan and Rennie’s victims and, first and foremost, our thoughts are with them.
“Any reasonable human being would be repulsed by the vile acts of these men, the images they shared, and the discussions they participated in online.
“In addition, they both used the mask of friendship to abuse close relationships and the depths of their depravity might have remained private had it not been for Strachan’s work computer requiring repair.”
But at a press conference today (thurs) he and Assistant Chief Constable Iain Livingstone unveiled their latest weapon in the war against child abuse – Operation Alba.
The operation – which has no time limit –brings together the resources of Scotland’s eight police forces, the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency, Crown Office and the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre to track down other paedophiles on the internet.
ACC Livingstone said that the aim was to take the fight to the sex beasts by being proactive instead of reactive.
He said: “In the past what typically happens is that, for example, a child goes missing and when we find them we may also find indecent pictures and then start to investigate that.
“In the case of Operation Algebra, it was a photograph on a computer handed in for repair that led to the investigation.
“What will happen with Operation Alba is that we will start to use technology to identify these individuals.
“The types of offenders this will track down will be people who are currently not within the police knowledge and who may have a public persona where other people may have trust in them.
“With Operation Alba we can indentify these individuals and bring them to justice.
“Operation Alba will use intelligence and investigation techniques, including existing and emerging technology, to detect those involved in online child abuse and bring them to justice.
“We are utilising the most up-to-date technology to identify and arrest individuals who attack and abuse vulnerable children.”
ACC Livingstone said everyone was responsible for ensuring that children in their care was made aware of the risks of the internet.
He said: “The message is that every single individual, all of us, need to take that responsibility.
“And if they have concerns then they should pass those concerns on, not only for your children but for everybody else’s child.”