Groups of self-styled vigilante “pedophile hunters” have taken the UK by storm for snaring child sex predators online and then streaming their “busts” on Facebook Live video.
The “hunting team”, known as The Hunted One on Facebook, trap sexual perpetrators by posing as children in online chats and arranging to meet up with the molesters.
Once the pedophiles arrive to meet up with their prey, they are greeted with a gang of pedo-vigilantes who are armed with evidence of their pedophilia and a camera to stream the video of the “arrest” over the internet.
Once the pedophile has been snared, they are supposed to call and wait for the police to arrive to make the arrest as civilians aren’t legally allowed to apprehend criminals.Police have raised concerns about people taking the law into their own hands though after some rogue pedo-hunters turned violent on a suspect.
Kent police charged a man with grooming after an undercover sting operation by members of a Facebook vigilante group known as The Hunted One.
Footage of the incident posted by the group showed a brawl in a car park at the Bluewater shopping center during which a man was seen being punched and kicked.Kent police said it was alarmed by the behavior of vigilante groups. Ch Supt Thomas Richards said their activities risked hampering police investigations and potentially exposing innocent members of the public to false accusations.
“We do have significant concerns about people taking the law into their own hands and the methods they use, and in some cases acting outside of the law, and would strongly advise against getting involved in, or setting up activities to entrap those suspected of intending to commit offenses,” he said.He advised such groups to contact the police with their suspicions.
“Whilst police have resources and expertise to protect the vulnerable and people with mental health issues, members of the public generally do not, and can cause such individuals to be placed at serious risk of harm,” he said.
Last week a judge gave the go-ahead to another pedo-hunting group to continue hunting and trapping pedophiles.
Legal teams acting for two men who were caught by the organization Dark Justice allegedly attempting to sexually abuse minors had argued that the use of evidence gathered by such operations “diminished the integrity of the court process” and that the groups should be regulated.
But in a detailed judgment given at Newcastle crown court on Thursday, Mr. Justice Langstaff ruled that there was no legal requirement for the activities of Dark Justice to be subject to controls.Cases relying on evidence gathered by such groups had been put on hold until the outcome of the test case was known.
Dark Justice – two men in their 20s who keep their full identities a secret – operates fake online profiles of minors, with photographs provided by volunteers.If someone arranges a meeting with a person they think is a child, Dark Justice waits with a video camera at the location and the resulting video is posted online.
A statement on the group’s website reads: “When conducting our investigations, we never approach anybody first. Instead, we set up a profile and wait for messages. When we receive a message, we reply immediately and tell them that we are underage.”
“When talking to anyone, we always try to avoid sexually explicit conversation. We act young and uneducated on the subject, and we never encourage sexual chat or sexual behavior. The people we talk to suggest a meeting, and at this point, we take over and suggest a place where we know we can control what’s going on, and where we’ll be safe.”
“When a person confirms that they are coming, and when our team spots them, we ring the police and report the crime … As soon as they have been arrested, we go to the police station to make statements.”To date, Dark Justice claims to have been responsible for 83 arrests, 42 convictions, and 20 prison sentences.