A “paedophile-hunting” group has defended its actions amid police criticism after claiming responsibility for a Perth man’s arrest over alleged online offences last week.
A Police Scotland spokesperson confirmed the man in his 50s was arrested. He was released pending further inquiries.
The team behind Facebook page Child Protectors Scotland say the man, who has not been charged, would not be getting investigated without their actions, during which they confronted him at his home address.
The group shared the man’s name with its 100,000-strong social media following to which they state their “mission is to expose and convict adults who solicit and groom minors on the internet.”
Residents reported to The Courier multiple youths appeared outside the man’s house before his arrest and had been speaking to police.
The Child Protectors Scotland group, who live stream “stings” – confrontations with alleged predators – on Facebook, claimed he was using “someone else’s identity whilst chatting to decoys.”
A spokesperson from the group said: “There would have been between six to eight members of our team in attendance. The police were called when we arrived at the property – they refused to attend the property and requested that we hand in our evidence at the station.
“Then, I believe, they arrested him shortly after. In this case, we didn’t go live.
“What we do is set up profiles under the guise of children, usually between the age of 12 to 14, then we just wait until someone contacts us.
“Straight away, we make it clear that the profile is a child’s when we receive a message then we’ll chat with them and see where it goes.
“We never bring up anything sexual and always try to steer the conversation away from that if it comes up. If the chat remains sexual and/or they start requesting or sending indecent images that’s when we take action.
“Either we turn up to meet them if they arrange a meeting, or will visit their property to speak with them. That’s when we’ll go live (on Facebook) if possible.
“We don’t release details of the decoy accounts as the account may still be active.”
The group and its actions have been condemned by police.
A spokesperson said: “Child protection is a priority for Police Scotland and we will robustly investigate child abuse in all its forms, which increasingly includes online offending.
“It’s understandable that people want to protect children from harm but we would ask them not to take the law into their own hands.
“Revealing the identity of suspected offenders can jeopardise the safety of individuals, their families and the wider public.”