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Two New Zealand Investigators Receive Commendation From UK’s National Crime Agency

Two investigators in the Digital Child Exploitation Team at Te Tari Taiwhenua, Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) have been awarded a commendation from the Director General of the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

Jon Peacock receives NCA award on behalf of himself and Hayden Flett whilst visiting the NCA director General in the UK

Jon Peacock and Hayden Flett worked on a high-profile international investigation into child sexual abuse, leading the response to UK enquiries over the past four years.

The operation resulted in over 450 UK arrests and the safeguarding of over 160 children, 88 of whom were in the UK.

Authorities in New Zealand launched an investigation in October 2019, identifying tens of thousands of members of an online platform that had been used to share child abuse material.

The content was some of the most “horrific and devastating” investigators had ever seen. It included a particularly disturbing and sadistic video series which showed the torture, rape and sexual abuse of three kidnapped young girls, one of whom was an 18-month-old toddler.

Information relating to online accounts believed to have been created in the UK was passed to the National Crime Agency, who analysed the data, initiated its own investigations and disseminated packages to law enforcement partners across the country.

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Many of the UK offenders were working in positions of trust, including at primary schools and nurseries, within law enforcement, as medical professionals and as religious officials.

Sarah Murphy, NCA Senior Manager, National Targeting Centre (CSAE), said:

“The information received from our partners in New Zealand pointed to a significant number of online accounts linked to individuals in the UK.

“Support from the Digital Child Exploitation Team at DIA, and in particular from Jon Peacock and Hayden Flett, has been invaluable, ensuring that we were able to identify dangerous offenders and safeguard a huge number of vulnerable children.

“They have mentored NCA officers both late at night and early morning, enabling them to identify key investigative opportunities, and have regularly supported with urgent NCA and wider UK policing queries outside of their working hours to fit within operational timeframes here in the UK.

“All of us here at the NCA, alongside our partners across the world, will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that individuals who collect, distribute and produce this material are held to account.”

Tim Houston, Manager Digital Child Exploitation Team at DIA added:

“I’m really pleased to see our valued partners at the NCA recognise the significant effort that Jon and Hayden go to every day to assist law enforcement across the UK. In such a challenging field, it is important to recognise such commitment to child protection.

“These are outstanding results from the NCA and we are pleased and proud to have been able to assist.”

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