Met Police
Policer said there is a "cottage industry" of vigilante groups across the country. iStock

Police have been urged to tackle the growing problem surrounding vigilante paedophile hunters.

According to a report in the Times, there are now around 75 such groups who are working across the UK.

But these so-called hunters also risk breaking the law. and offences could include harassment, privacy breaches or violent acts. There are also concerns that the vigilantes have "little or no consideration" for the victims of paedophiles when it comes to their safety, wellbeing and safeguarding.

The National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) says: "The techniques used by vigilantes will often be very different to those employed by the police and may involve the commission of offences by the vigilantes.

"In such circumstances, it is important that the police bring any potential offences committed by the vigilante to the attention of the charging lawyer."

The NPCC said that groups such as Dark Justice and the Hunted One were now operating as part of a "cottage industry" which could pose issues for police.

Officers have been told not to work with these underground groups and that the vigilantes "could put people at risk."

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the NPCC lead for child protection, said that people should let the police investigate. "So-called paedophile hunters are taking risks they don't understand and can undermine police investigations."

There are concerns that courts may not prosecute evidence provided by these groups, but Mr Justice Langstaff ruled at Newcastle Crown Court that men caught by the network could continue to be prosecuted.