Police dog helps sniff out digital media devices used to store indecent child images

A man has been jailed for two years for making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children after an electronic monitoring service alerted police to his offending.

Registered sex offender Connor Jackson, 27 years, of Liverpool city centre, was today (Friday 14 July) sentenced at Liverpool Crown Court to two years in prison for possession of indecent images of a child (categories A, B and C) and breach of a sexual harm prevention order.

Following an operation by Merseyside Police Sex Offender Unit on 24 March, Jackson and his co-accused Thomas Edward Stanley, 33, of St Helens were arrested simultaneously and their homes searched.

The warrants were triggered by an alert from eSafe Global monitoring service – the first time the pioneering system has been used successfully by Merseyside Police to identify offending. It flagged that Jackson had accessed a suspicious image on his device.

Merseyside Police Sex Offender Unit invested in the software to improve monitoring of registered sex offenders and their online activity. When suspicious activity is identified, an alert is sent to the police for further enquiries to be conducted.

The investigation revealed Jackson had been in conversation with a man who had sent him a video of another screen which displayed an indecent video of a boy.

This was followed by the text message: “Not the best quality but I’ll get a USB for you tomorrow.”

Police were able to identify the man in conversation with Jackson was Thomas Stanley, another registered sex offender.

The interaction meant Thomas Stanley was in breach of a condition on his Sexual Harm Prevention Order not to associate with other registered sex offenders.

Police attended the homes of both men and used a specialist digital media search dog – PD Stanley – to look for devices. The canines are trained to sniff out anything that could have electronic storage including a full range of digital devices, such as mobile phones, USB memory sticks and even SIM cards.

As a result, a number of items were recovered at Thomas Stanley’s home, including the USB stick referred to in the messages, which contained Category A (the most severe), B and C images. Other devices recovered from his home contained further indecent images.

Jackson’s phone was recovered when his address was searched and it was found to contain Category A, B and C indecent images and videos of children.

Both men were charged and later pleaded guilty to multiple breaches of their sexual harm prevention orders as well as offences relating to indecent images.

Thomas Stanley was sentenced on 1 June 2023 to 32 months imprisonment for breach of a sexual harm prevention order, distributing indecent photographs of children, making indecent photographs of children and possessing an indecent photograph of a child.

Following sentencing, Detective Inspector Steven O’Neill said, “This should send a very clear message to the public that we will do everything in our power, and use all tools at our disposal, to target offenders and bring them to justice.

“Merseyside Police has invested in digital monitoring risk management software to reduce the risk posed by sex offenders living in the community, but also to ensure that robust proactive arrests can be made swiftly should any illegal activity be identified.

“This software enables police offender managers, who work with sex offenders, to ensure they are complying with sexual harm prevention orders. When instances of further offending are discovered, they are dealt with robustly, as this case shows.”

The Merseyside Police sex offender unit regularly conducts up to five hundred visits each month to ensure that sex offenders living in the community are closely monitored.

Each Registered Sex offender has an individual Police Offender Manager who is responsible for identifying any suspicious activity or signs of reoffending during their visits.

Offender managers work closely with partners in probation and housing to ensure that the public are protected and risk of further offending is minimised.

Det Insp O’Neill added, “Sex offending has such a huge and terrible impact on victims, and we are determined to continue looking to innovative new ways of identifying repeat offenders at the earliest possible opportunity, to prevent young people coming to further harm from abuse and exploitation”

Image: Merseyside Police – PD Stanley

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