The head of a Northants Police team that targets online sexual predators says there has been a “330 per cent” increase in the number of cases in the past two years.
Detective Inspector (DI) Andy Rogers heads up the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) consists of a specialist team of 14 officers (including civilian investigators) dedicated to catching people who download and distribute indecent images of children.
Mr Rogers said his department, which was set up at the start of 2014, had rapidly grown to deal with the increase in cases.
Latest figures show POLIT has identified 102 suspects since the start of 2015.
Mr Rogers said: “There has been a 250 per cent increase in the number of cases compared to 2014.
“It happens right across the county and perpetrators are people of all ages and from all sectors of society.”
People in the county who have been convicted of downloading and distributing indecent images in the past year include Mark Willimott, a former teacher at a Northamptonshire secondary school, and Stephen Coleclough, a well-known tax advisor from Bugbrooke.
Mr Rogers said the team act on tip-offs from the public and other sources and work in conjunction with other police forces, nationally and internationally.
He said: “We are not purely concentrating on the issues here in Northamptonshire - we are well connected with what is happening across the globe.
“We receive information and intelligence from various sources and work tirelessly to provide an effective response to this serious crime.
“I encourage anybody with any information about people viewing and sharing indecent images of children to report it immediately by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.”
Mr Rogers said his team used high-tech software to track down online paedophiles and were improving the speed of the process from arresting a suspect to them appearing in court.
He said: “Offenders are increasingly using the internet and technology to harm children. Every image viewed has a victim and this perpetuates more offending against the most vulnerable in our society.
“It is vitally important we have a team of experts dedicated to catching those committing these types of crime and bringing them to justice.
“We safeguard children by detecting abuse and prosecuting offenders for the possession and distribution of indecent images of children.
“My message to anybody viewing indecent images of children on their computer is this: Expect a knock at your door from one of my officers who will have a warrant for your arrest. This will not only impact on you but those closest to you. The impact can be far-reaching and devastating for all concerned.
“We want to stop this exploitation and safeguard the most vulnerable in our society and ensure we continue to protect people from harm.”