Police raids target paedophile hunters

Police in Antwerp detained nine suspects who are believed to be vigilantes hunting down suspected paedophiles.  They hit on the activists thanks to a closed Facebook group.

Members of the group made calls urging other members to hunt down paedophiles.  Police simultaneously raided ten properties as part of their investigation arresting nine suspects.

Antwerp police’s Sven Lommaert is clear: “If you suspect child abuse, inform the police.  Don’t try to take the law into your own hands.”

Weapons including several that were unlicensed were also discovered during the raids.  “Paedophile hunters use social media to try and entrap suspected child abusers and open them up to public censure.  “It may seem innocent” says Lommaert “but it’s punishable by law.”

The police spokesman says paedophile hunting is relatively new to Belgium.  The present investigation is the first into paedophile hunters in Belgium.  North of the border the authorities are more familiar with the phenomenon that already resulted in at least one death.

“Some people glorify paedophile hunters, but the police cannot accept that members of the general public take the law into their own hands and act as judge and jury.”

This is the first time Antwerp police are confronted with this phenomenon.  They are now investigating whether the group has claimed any victims.

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