HAMPSHIRE and Wiltshire police joined forces with a national campaign to safeguard children from online abuse.

The covert enforcement operation was co-ordinated by the National Crime Agency and involved 45 police forces across the country.

Hampshire Constabulary has safeguarded 17 children and arrested 33 men on suspicion of possessing and distributing indecent images of children as part of the six-month, national operation.

Detective chief inspector Becky Riggs is the force’s lead on child abuse investigations.

She said: “Today’s announcement of the results of the operation marks the culmination of six months of covert work by our dedicated officers.

“Online child sexual abuse is one of the areas we investigate as part of our work tackling child abuse and child sexual exploitation in general.

“Online offences can involve actual physical abuse and grooming as well as the making, possession and distribution of indecent images of children.”

Wiltshire police arrested six suspects, including a 30-year-old man from Tidworth for making and possessing indecent images of children.

Detective sergeant Jason Roberts from Wiltshire’s CIET said: “Wiltshire Police have a dedicated team of investigators that target those suspected of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children via the internet.

“This operation highlights the national scale of this crime.

“We will continue to work alongside our partner agencies to ensure those arrested are brought to justice and any child that is identified through these investigations is properly safeguarded and protected from the risk of further harm.”

If you are worried about your own sexual thoughts or behaviour towards children, you can get help from the Stop It Now helpline on 0808 1000 900.

If you have been involved in this type of offence, whether as a victim or an offender, you can seek help.

If you’ve been the victim of abuse, speak to police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

If you have concerns or suspicions about someone you believe is abusing children or sharing indecent images, you can call police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.