Police have warned paedophile vigilantes they could undermine investigations after a group staged a ‘sting’ near Mildenhall.
The Cambridgeshire-based group posted a live video on Facebook of its members confronting a man in a village near Mildenhall last Thursday afternoon, showing them restraining him while claiming to be making a ‘citizen’s arrest’.
Suffolk Police said ‘a 44-year-old man from the Mildenhall area was arrested on suspicion of sexual offences’ and was then bailed to return on October 13 so that further inquiries could be made.
But they also released a statement from National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Child Protection, Norfolk’s Chief Constable Simon Bailey, who said: “We understand the desire to protect children but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice.
“So called paedophile hunters are taking risks they don’t understand and can undermine police investigations. Most importantly, unlike our officers, they have no way of safeguarding child victims.
“Our approach to these groups has not changed. We may consider working with these groups in certain instances, if it helps us protect children and we can manage the risks of their involvement. But this is not the solution to the problem of abuse.
“We are tackling child abuse by using undercover officers and covert resources to catch those seeking to groom children online.”
The Cambridgeshire group has since taken down its video of the sting, though a still from it was still on its Facebook page on Wednesday. Its methods have also been criticised by other anti-paedophile groups on Facebook.