A team of Hertfordshire Constabulary detectives has won a prestigious national award for their work uncovering a global paedophile ring.
The Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF) awarded the officers their ‘Detective Investigation of the Year’ award at a ceremony held in Manchester on Thursday, October 11.
The recognition was in honour of Operation Pendent, an investigation centring on a ring of paedophiles sharing and live streaming sexual abuse against children. It was the largest and most complex investigation ever undertaken by the Force’s Child Online Safeguarding Team.
Their work resulted in more than 150 suspects across the world being identified and five men being jailed last December. Ringleader Michael Emerton, aged 34 and formerly of Berkhamsted, received nine life sentences for his role in the abuse.
Hertfordshire Chief Constable Charlie Hall said: “This has been an outstanding investigation and I am delighted and proud that in making this award the PFNDF has recognised the hard work and dedication of our officers in disrupting this international paedophile ring.
“We know innocent children have been protected from the most horrific abuse imaginable, both in this country and abroad, as a direct result of their work.”
Privacy laws in the USA represented a significant barrier to obtaining information from the social media and dating app companies. However the team worked with the American Embassy to overcome them.
In one instance intelligence obtained in Hertfordshire was shared with the authorities in the US about a potential offender in their country. The intelligence suggested there was an immediate risk of harm to a potential victim. The suspect was detained in custody by American authorities within 48 hours of the evidence of offending being discovered in the UK.