Inside Dark Justice: Keep Our Children Safe Online
Scott and Callum are the UK's most prolific paedophile hunters. Now they're on a mission to fix the failing system that created them.
Inside Dark Justice
'Scott' and 'Callum' are the UK’s most prolific paedophile hunters. As Dark Justice, they have provided the evidence to put eighty-four dangerous and predatory sex offenders behind bars since 2014.
Their success has propelled them into the public eye but Scott and Callum have always kept their faces and real identities hidden.
Now they’re faced with the biggest decision of their lives as they consider whether to finally reveal themselves, despite the very real dangers associated with doing so.
Newcastle based Scott and Callum say that the failure of the criminal justice system to deal with people effectively makes the rise in ‘hunter’ groups inevitable.
Despite sustained criticism from the police, ‘hunter’ groups’ evidence played a role in 47% of convictions for online grooming last year - a seven-fold rise over two years.
Is their uncomfortable rise set to continue?
The Independent Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) heard recently that the number of suspected cases referred to the Metropolitan Police alone has risen by 700% since 2014. The pressure continues to grow.
This is an important story, with a unique personal narrative, that has never been told before. It will both break new journalistic ground and captivate viewers with an extraordinary human story.
However, we also want to create a legacy that can raise the awareness of online grooming to both children and parents through a groundbreaking education programme, written with and endorsed by Dark Justice.
The images from Dark Justice’s vast video archive are both compelling and disturbing. One person after another being caught red-handed by practised paedophile hunters. Every one - there have been women as well as men - thinks that they have made contact with an under-age girl or boy. Then they come face to face with Scott or Callum, brandishing a camera.
They always inform the police. ‘We do everything within the law, ’ says Callum. ‘We are not interested in just outing suspects – we want to provide evidence that is put before a court.’
The people they catch are responding to fake social media profiles of teenage children, known as ‘decoys,’ which are placed on social media platforms.
Scott and Callum say that the national picture has become far more dangerous since Channel 4 made ‘The Paedophile Hunter’ with Stinson Hunter five years ago. His work was focused on 18+ dating sites.
‘It’s completely different now,’ says Callum, ‘the grooming is happening on Facebook, and anywhere else children hang out. Far more real kids are at risk and being preyed on.’
What they say is supported by counsel to the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Jacqueline Carey, who said recently ‘whichever way the statistics are looked at there has been a marked increase in the last five years in relation to online facilitated child sexual abuse.’
The National Crime Agency recently issued a warning for parents to keep an eye on children’s behaviour to protect them from attack. Its safeguarding Commander, Zoe Hilton, says: ‘We know that as children's online habits change, offenders are adapting with them. These individuals are learning how young people communicate online and are using this knowledge to contact, befriend and abuse them."
Dark Justice runs operations across the country. In its hometown, Newcastle, it almost operates as an extension of the police force. Officers turn up when asked for help by Scott and Callum and act on their evidence.
Forces nationally have to deal with this constant wash of sex offenders. Some welcome the help of Dark Justice – others less so.
But what happens once the arrest has been made?
The government closed its prison rehabilitation programme over the summer of 2017 and it has yet to be replaced.
A direct impact of this is that Scott and Callum are now catching the same people more than once.
Again, the pattern across the country is of the police being overwhelmed by the quantity of work. This has led to the emergence of increasingly militant vigilante groups. ‘They will set people up and then stream confrontations live on You Tube,’ says Callum ‘it can be very uncomfortable to watch. These people are being condemned – and often attacked on camera – without going before a court.’
Scott and Callum want to get to the bottom of what is going wrong but know they can only really effect change if they stop being anonymous and shed the 'vigilante' image.
They know they can only do this by unmasking but there are extrememly serious implications to consider, not least their own personal safety.
The film follows Scott and Callum as they work through this dilemma, ultimately making the decision whether to come out of the shadows or not.
This deeply personal story will help to illustrate the national problem.
They will face challenge and criticism as well as gain understanding.
On their journey they will meet and confront the new breed of paedophile hunter who outs people on the web – entirely ignoring the criminal justice system. All this will be cut through Dark Justice’s ongoing work and efforts to get reluctant police forces to take action.
This film will serve an important purpose by showing how the current system is failing - as paedophiles use the web to get behind our front doors. Rather than being a story of despair there is hope in Scott and Callum’s desire to find a solution - and determination to see it implemented.
Once our initial target is reached, a significant proportion of any additional backing raised will be invested into creating educational resources, written with and endorsed by Dark Justice that can be used to teach parents and children of the dangers of the internet and how to enjoy being online safely.
It is our intention to offer this resource free of charge to schools in order to reduce the number of children and families devastated by online grooming.
Copyright Neil Jackson / Diverge Pictures / Duncan Staff, 2018
Risks and challenges
We are mindful of the complicated legal issues surrounding the work Dark Justice do. It is our intention to ensure that during the process of making the film we do not hinder or put the chance of a potential conviction at risk.
Dark Justice have always put the gathering of evidence with the end goal of gaining a conviction at the top of their list of priorities.
We intend to ensure our involvement does not ever change this.
The film will also go through due diligence and legal scrutiny checks with our legal advisors before release.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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