Huge online child abuse operation catches hundreds

Most online offenders weren't known to police

boy with phone

A huge police investigation, led by the National Crime Agency, has led to the arrest of almost 700 child abuse image offenders, and the protection of 100s of children.

Operation Notarise was set up 9 months ago to respond to the threat of online abuse and child sexual exploitation in the UK. Since its launch, the NCA and police forces have collaborated to uncover hundreds of offenders unknown to the police.

Jon Brown, NSPCC lead on tackling sexual abuse, said:
"This excellent police work has uncovered a dark underbelly of child abuse crime that, frighteningly, only reveals a part of the picture. The operation clearly shows the vast scale of the problem and the serious risk posed to children by offenders within all elements of society.

"The number of offenders identified in positions of trust – health workers, teachers or in those in caring professions – is deeply disturbing. And equally worrying is the fact that nearly all of those caught were not known to police.

"There is no doubt law enforcement agencies have made major progress in tackling this type of offence, which is ruining the lives of untold numbers of children. But there is still a long way to go and we can only prevent more victims falling prey to sex offenders by remaining committed to tackling this appalling crime and by showing children how to help protect themselves."


"When I heard that an adult had asked Charlotte for naked photographs I was out of my mind with worry. I didn't know much about BB or social media at the time so I didn't feel able to give her advice about how to keep herself safe online before it happened. "
Janet* / Charlotte's* mother

Hear Charlotte's* story

Charlotte* is one of the many children affected by online abuse.

"She kept asking for more. When I said 'no' she threatened to put the photos she had on Facebook. I was scared as I didn't want my friends and family to see it."

Read the full story

What to look out for: online abuse

A child may be experiencing abuse online if they:

  • spend lots, much more or much less time online, texting, gaming or using social media
  • are withdrawn, upset or outraged after using the internet or texting
  • are secretive about who they’re talking and what they’re doing online or on their mobile phone
  • have lots of new phone numbers, texts or e-mail addresses on their mobile phone, laptop or tablet.

Online abuse

Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the web, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones. 
Read more about online abuse

Share Aware

Children are told it's good to share, but sharing too much online can be dangerous. Help your child stay safe on social networks, apps and games.
Be Share Aware

Worried about a child?

Contact our trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support.

0808 800 5000

Report a concern

Contact our press office

Contact our national and regional press offices for enquiries about our work or to request interviews.

Contact our press office