Over the past week there have been a number of incidents across the force area where individuals have been accused of online sexual offences.
Head of Crime, Det Chf Supt Judi Heaton said: “Whilst we share the concerns of groups who want to expose potential child sex offenders, in many of the recent cases we have seen locally, they have got it wrong.
Our first priority is keeping all those who live and work in our area safe and – whether it is their intention or not – these vigilante groups are potentially putting the lives of innocent people at risk.
In many of the recent cases, there has been no suggestion that the men accused believed they were speaking to a young person.
These accusations can destroy lives, ruin marriages and end careers. There have even been tragic cases where people who have been wrongly branded paedophiles have taken their own lives.
Often, there are also other people – in some cases children – living at the properties targeted, who are left terrified and with their homes and other property damaged.
Please don’t take matters into your own hands. We have an expert team to tackle internet sexual offenders, who work tirelessly to identify and target sex offenders.
We know how to gather the accurate evidence we need to charge offenders – and to secure a conviction in court, which is ultimately what we all want.
By taking matters in your own hands, you also run the risk of committing offences yourself. Don’t do it. If you have information you believe could help us to do this, get in touch and let us do our job.”