Britons investigated for streaming child abuse from Philippines
Britons investigated for streaming child abuse from Philippines

More than 100 Britons are under investigation over child sex abuse streamed live from the Philippines on to the computers of paedophiles around the world.

A police operation smashed the child abuse ring in the southeast Asian country where some of the victims had been introduced to the network by their own parents for money.

Abuse was streamed on the internet via webcams and watched by viewers in 12 countries who paid for access to the footage.

So far 17 British citizens have been arrested and a total of 139 UK nationals are among the 733 suspects uncovered by Operation Endeavour. Five offenders have been convicted in UK courts over the offences.

They include Timothy Ford who was jailed for eight and a half years in 2013. Ford paid to watch child sex abuse live and had been planning to move to the Philippines prior to his arrest, which sparked the enquiry by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Police found almost four million paedophile images on a computer belonging to another member of the ring, Thomas Owen. He was sentenced to seven years, last July.

Philippines is a developing country with high levels of poverty compared to the West, meaning criminal networks can exploit the demand for child sex abuse content by offering money to parents for their children.

Andy Baker of the NCA said: "This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with.

"Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt. In my mind they are just as responsible for the abuse of these children as the contact abusers overseas.

"Protecting the victims of abuse is our priority and that means attacking every link in the chain, from dismantling the organised groups who are motivated by profit through to targeting their customers."