Vigilante group back on borough streets...

A VIRAL vigilante group taken to court by police because of methods they used to hunt paedophiles has handed over a “suspect” to South Yorkshire officers following an incident in Rotherham.

Six members of Predator Exposure have previously been cleared by a jury of charges including false imprisonment and common assault, leaving them free to continue their campaign against people they claim have indecent interest in children.

Earlier this month, the group was back on the streets of Rotherham where they detained a man they accused of arranging to meet a 14-year-old girl.

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Groups like Predator Exposure pose as children during online conversations, luring men to respond indecently and ultimately set up “meetings”.

On October 2, in an area thought to be Sycamore Road, Eastwood, the group detained a man they accused of arranging to meet a girl.

On video, the group restrained the man telling him they were carrying out a “Section 24 A citizen’s arrest”, a procedure that can lawfully be made if a person thinks someone is committing an indictable offence.

The man’s arms were gripped on either side and he was threatened with being put “on the floor” and having his face “smashed”, as well as being continually insulted.

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The suspect protested his innocence and eventually, police arrived, read him his rights, handcuffed him and took him away.

A female member of the group then appeared to disclose his name.

The incident was streamed on Rumble, a Canadian video-sharing platform, which has a more lenient approach than YouTube to content moderation.

Some social media sites have suspended accounts of anti-paedophile groups in the past citing bullying and threatening conduct.  

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South Yorkshire Police would not comment on the video, saying that doing so could breach the “College of Policing’s authorised professional practice regarding naming suspects”.

On previous occasions, however, SYP has explained why they do not encourage predator hunters.

A spokeswoman said: “We understand the concerns relating to the internet activity of paedophiles and the danger they present to children but stress that activity by independent groups could lead to the commission of offences, including the obstruction of legitimate police operations and should be left to law enforcement.

“South Yorkshire Police cannot provide backing for proposed unauthorised activity to target paedophiles online.

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“We would encourage persons undertaking or considering undertaking such activity to consider the impact their activity may have on their own safety and that of others and, if necessary, take independent legal advice.”

SYP added that: “Any ‘evidence’ provided could be excluded from any prosecution as being illegally obtained.

“Law enforcement officers who undertake undercover activities are specially trained, and work under strict authorities and the control of senior officers. This process ensures the provenance of any evidence.”

The relationship between police and hunters is a fragile one.

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Simon Bailey, former chief constable and National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection, said: “I can’t deny they’ve led to convictions, but they’ve also led to the wrong people being accused...people committing suicide.”

Rotherham has been a fertile ground for anti-paedophile groups.

In August, a 32-year-old Brinsworth man appeared in Sheffield Crown Court where he admitted engaging in explicit online conversations with three profiles of girls — traps laid by a hunter group.

He received a suspended sentence of two years.

Twelve months ago, a 24-year-old man was arrested at Rotherham Central railway station after he had been communicating online with hunter groups pretending to be children.  

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He was jailed for two-and-a-half years and placed on the Sex Offenders Register for life.

There have been several other cases, including a former Rotherham maths teacher who sent porn to what he thought was a 14-year-old boy and was snared by hunters.



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