Operation Lattise, a major police investigation, has identified more than 500 children as potential victims of online sexual abuse.


Some of the children identified are as young as three and of the 523 “victims or potential victims” 122 were referred to child protection services.


Following the investigation, 77 people have been charged for rape, sharing indecent images of children, sexual extortion, grooming and/or indecent communication with children.


"Online child sexual abuse is a national threat – the reality is it is happening now, not only in Scotland but across the world, to children of all ages, from infants to teenagers," Police Scotland Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, said when talking about Operation Lattise. 


"Operation Lattise was about shining a light on the scale of this issue. It was focused activity to tackle the many forms of online child sexual abuse by identifying those who pose a risk to children online and, more importantly, identifying victims of online sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as preventing more youngsters becoming victims."



Explaining how the investigation with help the police, Early Years Minister Mark McDonald said: "Keeping children safe is a priority for both Police Scotland and the Scottish Government, so although there are many positive aspects to the online world I recognise there are also risks we have to be aware of."


"The outcomes of the operation will help to inform our Child Protection Improvement Programme, where child internet safety and tackling child sexual exploitation is a priority."



Highlighting the dangers of the internet, Constable Graham said that every time a video or image is shared the child is being "re-victimised": "Online child sexual abuse is not a victimless crime: children, from toddlers to teenagers, are being sexually abused and exploited now in Scotland and when an image or video clip is shared or viewed, they are being re-victimised."


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