LONDON — Britain's National Crime Agency has broken up an international crime group that live-streamed child sexual abuse from the Philippines.
The agency said the joint investigation with authorities in the United States and Australia yielded 29 arrests for people in 12 countries who had paid to watch the online abuse, which in some cases was arranged by members of the children's own families.
In a statement, the NCA said that the "use of web cams to stream live abuse, particularly from the developing world, is a significant and emerging threat."
The investigation was started after a routine visit by police in the English county of Northamptonshire to a registered sex offender, the NCA said. The probe began in 2012 and resulted in 15 children aged between 6 and 15 being safeguarded from abuse.
"This investigation has identified some extremely dangerous child sexual offenders who believed paying for children to be abused to order was something they could get away with. Being thousands of miles away makes no difference to their guilt. In my mind they are just as responsible for the abuse of these children as the contact abusers overseas," said Andy Baker, the deputy director of the NCA's Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit.
The NCA said it was joined in its investigation by Australian Federal Police and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
"This kind of end-to-end operation is only possible when law enforcement agencies work together," Baker said.
Separately Thursday, the Vatican acknowledged there can be "no excuse" for child abuse. The Vatican is being confronted for the first time, at length and in public, over the global priest sex abuse scandal involving allegations of the rape of thousands of children.
Contributing: Associated Press