Hundreds of suspected paedophiles have been arrested by UK police following a six-month-long operation.
The majority of cases have yet to carry charges, the National Crime Agency said. The charge sheet so far ranges from possessing indecent images of children to serious sexual assault.
The NCA added it had manacled 660 people throughout the UK and said that doctors, teachers, scout leaders, ex-cops and care workers were among the cuffed suspects.
Only 39 individuals were on the Registered Sex Offenders' list, said the NCA.
Police declined to explain how they "snared" the suspects. They said that the operation had remained covert until today to protect some 400 children, identify alleged offenders and secure the evidence needed.
NCA deputy director Phil Gormley said:
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.
The operation was the first of its kind in Blighty to have been coordinated in such a fashion, said the NCA - which enlisted the help of 45 police forces across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
It comes after Google and Microsoft bent to political pressure late last year by agreeing to tweak their search engines to make it a little harder for sickos to find child abuse images online.
Additionally, Google has developed a hashing technology for YouTube that places a unique ID mark on illegal child abuse vids. Once a copy is spotted on the service, all other copies are then apparently removed from the web.
The US tech giants said last November that they planned to work with the NCA - which has 4,000 people on its books tracking, investigating and cuffing paedophiles in the UK - to try to tackle the peer-to-peer networks in the darker corners of the web.
The agency has previously given Google and Microsoft an "unambiguous" list of terms that would clearly lead to child abuse images online. ®