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Police officer who pretended to be paedophile for 20 years still deals with the horror of what he witnessed

Police officer who pretended to be paedophile for 20 years still deals with the horror of what he witnessed

Ian James worked undercover hunting paedophiles for two decades, and struggled with the mental strain that put on him

A police officer who spent two decades working undercover to expose paedophiles once opened up on the horrors of his day-to-day work.

Ian James saw things that no-one should have had to witness, as well as saving countless kids and caging many monsters along the way.

As part of his work, he travelled abroad, studied the behaviour of the predators, as well as gaining their trust.

That’s all while attempting to raise his own children and maintain a relationship with his wife.

After that, he wrote a book called Save One Child and told his remarkable - if harrowing - story to podcast host James English on his Anything Goes podcast in 2021.

Ian, who grew up in Cornwall and joined the police at 18, worked his way up the country to London, before working in Cleveland.

Ian James worked undercover for two decades.
YouTube/Anything Goes with James English

Nowadays, much of this wretched business is online, but in those days Ian had to conduct much of his work face-to-face, dealing directly with the people he would eventually try to lock up.

On the podcast, he outlined the difficulties of his work.

"They're very cautious, they're very suspicious,” he began.

“They're very suspicious because they don't necessarily think you're a police officer, they're more likely to think you're a journalist and they're going to be named and shamed.

"Sometimes what you've got to do is manipulate them to be accepted, and it's so difficult because you'll only have a small window of opportunity to do it.

"Then, if you don't, if you're not successful, then theoretically, you're finished. Because you can't go back in your domain."

Of course, it’s hard not to take this work home with you, and Ian admitted to having struggled with that.

He also spoke of how many refuse the work because they 'can't force themselves to talk to these people'.

Over the years, Ian managed to build up trust with the predators.
YouTube/Anything Goes with James English

The day-to-day business of his work involved looking at images of children that he didn't want to see so he wouldn't give himself away and could 'hide [his] inner self' and 'block everything out' performing an 'acting role'.

"If I can't deal with that image, a predator would identify me and I might put a child at risk," he explained.

Over the years, Ian managed to build up trust with the predators, all the while struggling not to blow his cover while simultaneously dealing with some of the most horrific material imaginable.

His longest job during his career lasted for an entire year and saw him dealing with many different predators, including one who was 'very high risk, very dangerous' and 'regarded as one of the worst ones about at that time'.

He also went into prison to catch an already incarcerated offender, risking his own safety as not only a police officer, but - seemingly - someone sympathetic to those imprisoned for child sex offences.

He said: "You can imagine the sort of complexities, I'm going into a prison.

"The problem there is, they don't like predators, and I'm supposed to be a sympathiser, or I could be one.

"And, I'm actually meeting someone who is convicted, so you can imagine the potential hostility."

Ian really struggled with the nature of his work.
YouTube/Anything Goes with James English

Over the years, Ian was responsible for saving at least 50 children, and that desire to help the kids kept him heading back into these situations to catch those responsible.

He said: "You save one child, and you think 'do you know what? I can do this because I've just done it.'

"The satisfaction that I had became a bit of an obsession because if you save one child, then you want to save another one, then another one.

"Dare I say it - we were probably far more successful in saving children than we were at getting convictions."

Now, he wants to raise awareness not only of child safety in a world where predatory behaviour is rife, but also as a form of catharsis for himself.

Ian explained: "It's a subject that people don't want to read, and I don't want to glorify what I did, I wanted people to really understand just how difficult it is, and how hard it is.

"It's still relevant now even though we've moved into this online world.

"There are predators out there, so it's not just online. [But] you've got to be careful online.

"There's more likelihood of children being abused now than ever before because it's so easy."

You can listen to the full podcast with Ian James on the Anything Goes With James English channel on YouTube.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Anything Goes with James English

Topics: UK News, Crime