Vigilante paedophile hunters in Hampshire spark 20 cases in a year
PAEDOPHILE hunters provided evidence for 20 cases investigated by police in Hampshire.
Freedom of information requests were sent by the BBC to 45 police forces in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Jersey asking for the number of cases of sexual grooming cases using evidence from hunter groups.
Hampshire police came third highest - having investigated 20 cases with evidence from vigilantes.
Recent cases at Portsmouth Crown Court who were caught by vigilantes include a serving Royal Navy sailor trying to met a young girl, and a Fareham carer who thought he was talking to a 13-year-old decoy.
Greater Manchester Police had 39 while officers in Northumbria had 27 cases.
Nottinghamshire Police had 17.
Critics have raised questions over the groups – and Hampshire police admitted collecting evidence from them ‘is often time consuming’.
A Wickham man died by suicide after being caught by vigilante group Southampton Trap.
The man's inquest heard he thought he was meeting a 14-year-old girl in a supermarket car park in Portswood, Southampton, on October 4.
A Hampshire police spokesman said: ‘While we will not work with these groups, we have a responsibility to investigate evidence that a serious crime has been committed, regardless of where it comes from.
‘In some cases these groups will identify an offender and the standard of evidence will be good enough to charge and take to court.
‘However, the work involved in collecting this evidence and bringing it to a suitable standard for prosecution is often time consuming.’
A spokesman for the National Police Chiefs’ Council said officers arrest 500 people over child sex abuse and protect 700 youngsters each month.