Herts detectives receive award after busting global paedophile ring

PUBLISHED: 14:52 12 October 2018 | UPDATED: 14:52 12 October 2018

Hertfordshire Police's Child Online Safeguarding Team. Picture: supplied by Herts Police

Hertfordshire Police's Child Online Safeguarding Team. Picture: supplied by Herts Police

Anderson Photography.co.uk

A Herts Police investigation into a paedophile ring has won ‘Detective Investigation of the Year’ at a prestigious police awards ceremony.

Ringleader Michael Emerton got nine life sentences.Ringleader Michael Emerton got nine life sentences.

The Police Federation’s National Detectives’ Forum (PFNDF) presented the award at a ceremony held in Manchester last night (October 11), for their work on Operation Pendent.

The operation uncovered paedophiles who had been sharing and live streaming sexual abuse against children.

Their work resulted in more than 150 suspects across the world being identified and several jailed last December.

Ringleader Michael Emerton, aged 34 and formerly of Berkhamsted, received nine life sentences for his role in the abuse.

Robert Lindsay was busted by Operation Pendent.Robert Lindsay was busted by Operation Pendent.

In a shocking turn of events, another of the men jailed, Simon Wintle, had worked for Herts Police for 10 years as a Special Constable and later, as a civilian analyst - before the investigation found out his activities and immediately suspended him.

At the time, a spokesperson said: “Simon Wintle betrayed the trust placed in him by the force.”

READ MORE: Hertfordshire Police Special Constable jailed over role in ‘despicable’ paedophile ring

Paul Stevens, caught by Operation Pendent.Paul Stevens, caught by Operation Pendent.

Operation Pendent jailed five men in total and was the largest and most complex investigation ever undertaken by the Force’s Child Online Safeguarding Team (COST).

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.”

Matthew Webby, jailed for nine years thanks to Operation Pendent.Matthew Webby, jailed for nine years thanks to Operation Pendent.

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, and the suspect was detained in custody by American authorities within 48 hours of the evidence of offending being discovered in the UK.

Simon Wintle, previously a Special Constable with Herts Police, was suspended when they uncovered his role.Simon Wintle, previously a Special Constable with Herts Police, was suspended when they uncovered his role.

Detective Chief Inspector Dee Perkins is the Constabulary’s head of protecting vulnerable children and was one of the team honoured at the awards.

She said: “Operation Pendent was an extensive inquiry which resulted in the sharing of intelligence with more than 50 other law enforcement agencies around the world. We continue to investigate these crimes and work towards bringing more offenders to justice in connection with this case.

“I would also like to pay tribute to the professionalism and dedication of my officers who worked incredibly hard to bring offenders to justice and stop the abuse of children.”

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