Nothing Prepares You for Pictures of a Baby Being Abused While Still Wearing a Wrist Tag from Hospital; CYBERCRIME INSIDE TOP-SECRET UNIT TACKLING RISE IN CHILD SEX OFFENCES
Byline: PAUL O'HARE firstname.lastname@example.org
THE depth of depravity defies belief for any normal, civilised human being.
But the specialists at Police Scotland's Digital Forensics Unit do not deal with normal people.
They deal with men who enjoy seeing newborn babies - some still wearing their hospital tags - being sexually abused.
Men like depraved Lostprophets singer Ian Watkins, 36, who only this week admitted planning the rape of a baby, among other vile sex crimes.
One experienced analyst at the top-secret west of Scotland unit says: "It can be very traumatic - it includes the rape and abuse of toddlers.
"We have even seen material featuring the abuse of babies still wearing their hospital wrist tags.
of videos "In some of the videos you can hear the children screaming."
Sifting through this distressing material takes its toll on the dedicated team.
ANALYST A key coping mechanism for staff is to focus on the technical aspects of the images, as opposed to the images themselves. This includes details of the devices used to capture the material and any background material that suggests where it was filmed.
All staff undergo at least two sessions of psychological counselling every year but help is available when they need it.
The investigator admitted: "If it gets to the point where you are taking your work home with you, then it is time to ask for help. It's not a sign of weakness - there has to be some kind of coping strategy."
A female forensic analyst told the Record: "When I press the off button on my computer I say: 'Go to sleep now. Don't trouble me.' "I am turning off the computer and the paedophile in my mind."
Despite the nightmarish nature of their work, the motivation for staff is to help the vulnerable.
The analyst added: "The focus of our work is the victims."
Alarmingly, the number of victims falling prey to these perverts is rising. Scots detectives are investigating three large-scale internet grooming cases involving more than 300 sexual predators.
The Record can reveal each case involves multiple teenage victims who have unwittingly exchanged indecent material with a paedophile.
Graphic images and videos, mostly obtained through blackmail, have then been shared with other perverts across the UK. In 2011 we told how a missing girl's computer spawned a global investigation and put 215 offenders on the police radar.
Detective Chief Superintendent Gill Imery, head of public protection at Police Scotland, said: "I am aware of three cases like that across Scotland right now - but those are just the ones we know about."
Each case involves multiple victims and an alarming number of offenders that is only expected to escalate further.
DCS Imery added: "It would not be exaggerating to say we are up around 100 for each one.
"Each one of those 100 men then has another network of other girls that they have engaged with and indeed other men that they have then shared material with.
"It is a continual challenge to be able to deal with the volume of it." DCS Imery gave the Record a powerful insight into how groomers operate.
She said: "Abusers pick up signs of vulnerability through open chat sessions and then invite the victims in to have a private exchange.
"We have quite a few cases where adult men have pretended to be younger men or even young girls."
Once they secure explicit images or footage from their victims, the predators turn nasty. …