Date: June 23, 2018
01) Very tawdry ‘heroes’: Disturbing truth about Britain’s growing army of self-appointed paedophile hunters who snare abusers
“Gemma, a 27-year-old mother of three and a trained child counsellor, was posing as Molly, a ‘bored 13-year-old from Wales’ with one express purpose: to lure paedophiles and would-be grooming predators into a ‘sting’.
When she signed up with the group Huntz 2 Exposure this year, after seeing footage of a ‘sting’ on Facebook, Gemma joined a growing army of amateur paedophile hunters whose operations stretch across the UK.
With names like Dark Justice, Guardians Of The North and Catching Online Predators, the groups command massive support.
Videos of stings — some broadcast live — are viewed by thousands, with ringleaders treated like minor celebs.
…yet after a month, Gemma was still waiting for a single approach from someone displaying an interest in sex with children.
Instead, she was becoming concerned about the behaviour of her fellow hunters.
Admitted to their private message groups, where around 20 of them ‘chatted’ using online aliases, she looked on in horror as they appeared to treat their activities as a sick game.
They mocked innocent people, sometimes obviously mentally ill, egged each other on and openly admitted they were desperate for a ‘result’.
Some fantasised about ‘slicing and dicing’ offenders, while another bragged she ‘wouldn’t stop until she saw blood’.
And instead of intercepting organised grooming gangs in the act, they seemed to be entrapping vulnerable men with premeditated, sexually-loaded questions Gemma wasn’t comfortable with.
The stings themselves seemed to do more harm than good.
‘Families are often attacked, children are bullied or their houses smashed up. They seemed to be putting children and families at risk rather than protecting them,’ she said.
The final straw came when a leading member was exposed by a rival group as a predatory paedophile himself, throwing the group into chaos.
That’s when Gemma decided she’d had enough and announced she was leaving.
Retribution was brutal and swift.
‘They turned on me. They said I couldn’t be trusted and called me a “nonce sympathiser”.
‘They took photos of my children from Facebook, posted them on the group chat and mocked them. They threatened to come to my home.
‘Yet they say they want to protect children? You have a group here who try to play God. They are taking the law into their own hands.
‘They even welcomed a convicted paedophile into their ranks without checking his credentials. It made me wonder who else is working for them, and why.
One retired child protection expert went so far as to call for masquerading as a child online to become a criminal offence.
Senior police officer Simon Bailey, who oversees all child sex abuse inquiries nationally, has repeatedly warned against vigilante justice.
The Norfolk Chief Constable said: ‘They are putting children’s lives and the lives of innocent people at risk. This is not something that should be tackled by people without professional training.
Judging from what [Gemma] read from fellow hunters, she thought she’d be pounced on like fresh bait.
But she waited . . .and waited . . . as the inane, innocent prattle carried on.
‘I started to wonder how the others were picking up these supposed perverts,’ says Gemma.
She soon got her answer.
When she talked about her lack of inappropriate advances in the private group chat, the other hunters — all using aliases — started offering tips on the type of leading questions that could get her a ‘result.’
‘It felt as if it was trapping the person,’ says Gemma. ‘It was all in the questions. If you did not ask these questions they probably would not have said these things.
‘It also seemed inappropriate — we were told to be naive. But what 13-year-old would ask “what does sex mean” or “what is a b*** j**?”
‘The questions were very specific and designed to get incriminating answers. The decoys worked in such a way as to trap the person into giving an answer.’
…in the aftermath a deeply embarrassed Huntz 2 Exposure privately called on everyone to demonstrate they did not have a similar criminal record.
Gemma watched in horror as the confessions started pouring in.
One of the founders, going by the alias of Matt Huntz, didn’t even seem remotely ashamed, admitting: ‘I’ve got a criminal record as long as my f***ing street. I’ve been arrested more times than I’ve eaten hot meals.’
He went on to say he had convictions for intent to supply and wounding with intent.
One woman said: ‘I’ve only been detained twice under the Mental Health Act. Both times was not my fault, down to ex partners.’
Gemma began to doubt whether these people were best qualified to be safeguarding children.
Professor Liz Yardley, a criminologist at Birmingham City University agrees.
She said she suspects that, far from being motivated by a need to help children, the hunters are really ‘doing it for themselves’.
She said: ‘It is incredible how some online groups are able to justify some of the most horrendous behaviour.”
This just goes on, and on…getting more outrageous…
There are so many of us in the MAP community, who have been talking about this exact same issue…for well over a decade now…
…This is what Perverted Justice [the original vigilante group of this type] was like, behind the scenes.
They had incredibly cruel, monstrous people amongst their ranks…People who were only interested in finding someone to maliciously hurt.
…It was a group of sociopaths…literally.
When I say, “This is what you normally find in those groups”…or “This is what those people are like”…It’s because these types of groups [and their inner workings] were exposed to us [the MAP community], many years ago…
…We know from personal experience, what these people are…and what they are all about.
You’ll find the rare, naïve “Gemma”, sometimes…but, they normally sever ties with these groups pretty quickly…The ones who actually stick around, are cruel and malicious abusers.
Many of them are infinitely more deserving of spending the rest of their lives in a prison cell, than the chosen people they target…
…Some of their victims are entirely entrapped, through false and misleading methods.