High-tech investment drives action against sex offenders across Nottinghamshire

An app that tracks the online activities of sex offenders has helped a specialist police team make more arrests, seize more electronic devices and protect more children from harm in Nottinghamshire.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 9:52 am

There has been a 40 per cent rise in successful outcomes over the last six months, after installation of new software to help monitor the online behaviour of more than 1,300 offenders the force monitors across the county.

Officers from a Nottinghamshire Police team specialising in the management of sexual and violent offenders have made 21 arrests, identified 27 new offences, two safeguarding incidents where young people were potentially at risk, and uncovered 24 breaches of court orders and four hidden electronic devices since October 2020.

The specialist team, based in Mansfield and Nottingham, is made up of 28 investigators and detective sergeants who work every day to supervise offenders.

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Detective Sergeant Steve Dalby

Detective Sergeant Steve Dalby, one of four sergeants on the team, said: “We take the safeguarding of vulnerable young people and other victims extremely seriously and, ultimately, that is what this work is all about – keeping people safe from harm.

“When the courts put in place restrictions on people’s online behaviour they do it for a very good reason.

“This new investment has allowed us to add further to the already excellent work of the team and to really refine the approach we take with our offenders."

Nearly 80 per cent of the people monitored by the team have been convicted of an on-line offence and many will be subject to a specific Sexual Harm Prevention Order that gives police the power to monitor and examine their electronic devices to ensure they are not accessing explicit material.

Part of that monitoring effort is now carried out remotely using an app that monitors prohibited words, images and behaviours – for example sexualised chat on an internet forum or the consumption of pornography.

Offender managers are then notified of prohibited behaviour by offenders and can then respond accordingly – potentially bringing a new charge if the breaches are serious enough.

The team’s new digital monitor officer also uses enhanced digital investigation techniques to identify undeclared devices and locate hidden and encrypted material.

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