Herts Constabulary awarded for Investigation of the Year
11 October 2018
Operation Pendent team from Hertfordshire Constabulary
The Operation Pendent team received the accolade from the Police Federation National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF) at a ceremony on Thursday in Manchester.
Operation Pendent revealed that a suspect was communicating with others over social media before shifting on to the video platform Skype. Video conversations were recovered using specialist techniques, and were found to involve the live streaming of sexual abuse against children.
More than 100 suspects were involved but obtaining their personal details from the Grindr dating app was a major barrier, as the site was subject to strict US privacy laws. Investigators had to go to the American Embassy to unlock those barriers.
The investigation was the largest and most complex ever undertaken by the force’s child online safeguarding team. It resulted in the ring leader receiving nine life sentences and his accomplices also receiving lengthy sentences.
On receiving the award, DI Jo Briggs said: “I feel really privileged to have been nominated in the first instance. I feel really proud of the team who worked really hard in what was a very difficult, emotional investigation.
"Everyone who has been involved in these investigations named tonight has worked as hard as everyone else."
Nottinghamshire Police were placed runner-up for the team involved in Operation Lendes, having achieved the first successful prosecution of its kind when a UK citizen was convicted of offences without an identified victim.
Investigations revealed the suspect had been arranging, financing, and directing horrendous acts of child sexual abuse in the Philippines from his home in Nottingham.
Working with the National Crime Agency, the Detective Inspector was advised that the identifying, safeguarding and securing evidential testimony of victims was unlikely – which presented the unusual challenge of building a case for the most serious sexual offences commissioned in the UK but perpetrated overseas - and without any identified victims.
The enquiry was incredibly complex and thousands of individual strands of information were pieced together to present a resilient case to Crown Prosecution Service, capable of persuading them to charge the most serious offences available.
Placed third was a team from Wiltshire Police, who uncovered the largest Child Sexual Exploitation investigation ever in their force area.
It began with a 15-year-old girl making an allegation that she had been abused by a ‘family friend’ who was known to a number of children in the locality. Welfare visits were carried out, more allegations were made against the suspect and complaints soon started to snowball.
Within 12 weeks of the first complaint, the suspect was charged and convicted, and is currently serving a 12 year sentence. But the investigation didn’t end there.
When officers eventually gained access to the offender’s encrypted hard drives they discovered hundreds of sickening home movies. This complex investigation has been hailed as multi-agency best practice with the welfare of children as its primary focus.
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