POLICE arrested 21 suspected internet paedophiles in Warrington, as part of a national operation with 45 forces, the Warrington Guardian can reveal.

Cheshire Police has confirmed 21 men who are accused of grooming children online were arrested in the town, as part of the six month investigation.

They have been bailed pending further enquiries, with police warning more arrests will follow.

Co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency, Operation Notarise saw 660 suspected paedophiles collared, many arrested for the first time.

Some of those arrested had unsupervised access to children in the course of their work.

They include doctors, teachers, scout leaders, care workers and former police officers.

Of the 660 arrested, only 39 people were registered sex offenders.

Sup Int Geraint Jones, from Cheshire Police, said, "There is no hiding place for those who seek to abuse children in Cheshire.

“The constabulary has a dedicated team whose role is relentlessly to pursue the online paedophile, and ensure they are brought to justice.

“That team has worked long and hard in support of Operation Notarise, and 21 people have been arrested and are on bail.

“More arrests will be made − our work will continue.

“We also work very closely with our partners in safeguarding to protect those children who are vulnerable to exploitation."

Phil Gormley, NCA Deputy Director General, said: "This is the first time the UK has had the capability to co-ordinate a single targeted operation of this nature.

“Over the past six months we have seen unprecedented levels of cooperation to deliver this result.

"Our aim was to protect children who were victims of, or might be at risk of, sexual exploitation.

“A child is victimised not only when they are abused and an image is taken. They are re-victimised every time that image is viewed by someone.

"Some of the people who start by accessing indecent images online go on to abuse children directly. So the operation is not only about catching people who have already offended − it is about influencing potential offenders before they cross that line.

"We want those offenders to know that the internet is not a safe anonymous space for accessing indecent images, that they leave a digital footprint, and that law enforcement will find it."