Gardaí carry out raids on 31 homes across 12 counties in child pornography probe

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Gardaí have seized digital material from a series of planned searches into the possession and distribution of child abuse images across 12 counties

Gardaí have carried out raids across 12 counties as part of an investigation into the possession and distribution of child abuse images.

Tens of thousands images and videos of child pornography were seized in searches carried out on 31 homes up and down the country.

The raids, under Operation Kerch took place over the past three days.

No details as to the location of the searches have been disclosed, though it's understood much of the focus centred on Leinster and Munster.

Computers and phones were among a string of items seized, the contents of which will now be examined to determined whether any prosecution charges can be brought.

The operation was led by the Online Child Exploitation Unit (ONCE) and the Garda National Protection Services Bureau.

Law enforcement agencies in Canada, the US and other countries also assisted gardaí in the operation.

The timing of the operation coincides with Safer Internet Day which is scheduled tomorrow (Tuesday), during which An Garda Síochána will, in conjunction with Webwise, be launching the ‘Be In Ctrl’ Secondary Schools Programme which aims to inform students of Online Exploitation, raise awareness of safe online behaviour and empower young people to seek help and report incidents to the Gardaí.