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Operation Cathedral and The Wonderland Club

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Operation Cathedral and The Wonderland Club

Post  AnnaEsse on Wed 14 Apr - 10:03

Operation Cathedral

"Operation Cathedral was a police operation that broke up an international child pornography ring called The Wonderland Club operating over the Internet. It was led by the British National Crime Squad in cooperation with 13 other police forces around the globe,[1] who arrested 107 suspects across 12 countries on September 1, 1998. Seven UK-based men were convicted for their part in the ring in 2001.[2]

One reason for the high profile of the operation was the unusually high number of images involved possessed and produced and distributed by Wonderland Club: 750,000 images with 1,200 unique identifiable faces. Despite substantial work by many of the agencies involved only a very small number of those appearing in the images have been identified.

The investigation had been sparked by a tip-off from United States police investigating the rape of an eight year old girl broadcast live to pedophiles by webcam.[1] The international and highly organized nature of the ring has led to a much higher concern for the child sexual abuse that is child pornography."

BBC January 16th 2002

"Renewed hunt for Wonderland victims."

Police trying to identify children in photographs circulated by the Wonderland Club paedophile ring are stepping up their hunt by using the latest facial mapping technology.

The National Crime Squad (NCS) has found just 18 of the 1,200 youngsters featured in the pornographic images circulated by the club's members.

I actually identified two of those children and it was a very traumatic experience.

Following Operation Cathedral, which uncovered Wonderland in 1998, detectives seized 750,000 images of abuse.

These were cleaned up and sanitised and more than 1,200 clearly identifiable children's faces were distributed to all UK police forces and international forces through Interpol.

"To date we have only been able to make 18 positive identifications," Mr Spindler said in a report to the NCS Service Authority.

"The multi-agency pilot project involved Child Protection Teams, Social Services and education departments but was found to be very labour intensive and time consuming.

The pilot project referred to involved taking the 1200 images to children's homes with the thinking that perhaps some of those children had been through the care system and residential workers may have been able to identify them. I was working in a children's home at the time, but had not been doing this work for very long and so I wasn't expecting to see any children I recognised because the images were from several years before.

Each of the 1200 images was shown for around 5 seconds and was identified by a number. We were told to write down the number if we thought we recognised a child. I was absolutely stunned when I recognised two of those children. Fortunately, the images had been, 'cleaned up and sanitised,' and we did not have to look at children being abused, but it was still a shock and I can remember vividly sitting there and seeing those children's faces.
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