If there’s something you feel strongly about, you should do something about it. I’ll often be heard telling people that. However, how you try and change things matter; so many turn to vigilantism and cause so much more harm than good. Many have their concerns about groups that go about ‘hunting’ paedophiles online: it seems some of these organisations aren’t regulated, and are a lot more concerned with catching people than gathering evidence or ensuring that their case against people is correct and proper.
You’ll find Dark Justice are one of these paedophile hunting organisations. They have gained notoriety in recent months, being featured on BBC News and in the Daily Mail among others. I was granted an interview with the organisation, in which I tried to figure out if they’re a real force for good:
How do you formulate the content and images to create convincing characters and profiles?
We have people who are 18+ but look younger who volunteer for us and give us permission to use their picture, we call them decoys we basically set up accounts on social media, dating websites and chat rooms posing as minors. The suspected predators instigate a conversation and we reply telling them we are under age.
How do you ensure that your activities don't harm any police investigations?
We have regular contact with the police so if we think someone is in the middle of police investigation we'll approach the police and give them the name for that person and if they are investigating they would say but this has never happened once yet, so it just goes to show how easily these predators can slip through the net.
Why do you think the police aren't doing enough to combat online grooming, and how should they be doing more?
That's a simple question, it's not the police that isn’t doing enough it's the government that's not doing enough. The police need money to fund to combat this crime but the government isn't giving the police that money to combat it. If the government is serious about taking these predators off the street there needs to be a massive cash injection in to the police.
Have any of the people you've caught not been ultimately convicted?
Nope, never. All the predators that have been caught by us have ended up getting punished.
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I believe Dark Justice prove something important; if there’s something you feel really strong about, you don’t need to limit yourself to political action. You can actually do something about it and be a force for good, provided that you create processes and rules that don’t allow you to abuse your power, and maintain regular and thorough contact with the police.