A DEDICATED team of investigators will target online paedophiles in North Yorkshire.

The Online Abuse Team at North Yorkshire Police has been set up following a national pilot to speed up investigations, improve evidence gathering, and increase the rate of guilty pleas relating to images of child abuse.

The group is part of the the Digital Intelligence and Investigation Department - which also includes the Cybercrime Unit, Digital Forensics Unit and Mobile Phone Unit - and will be spread across York, Harrogate, Scarborough and Northallerton, to offer immediate advice into ongoing investigations.

They will also look into urgent cases referred by the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre.

Detective Inspector Darrin Knight, who heads the Digital Intelligence and Investigation Department, said: "The new team gives us the resources to focus on this priority area of crime and further develop our expertise and knowledge. Combined with the skills of the wider department, we’ll provide a comprehensive and specialist capability across the force.

“Everyone shares our revulsion at images of child abuse. Each image represents a child who has been through the worst abuse imaginable. By looking at them, offenders are creating a demand, and we are determined to disrupt that demand and safeguard as many children as possible.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Julia Mulligan said: “This new team will help ensure victims of some of the worst crimes imaginable are supported and protected, with offenders brought to justice, wherever possible.

“These crimes can happen anywhere. It is important parents, carers, teachers and any adult with responsibility for children looks out for the signs of abuse and don’t hold back from reporting their concerns. The sooner someone can intervene and make a young person safe the better, and this team can then do the rest.”

*To report a sexual crime to the police call 101, or 999 if you are in immediate danger. Childline can be contacted 24 hours a day on 0800 1111.