child abuse
child abuseCreative Commons/Midwest Communications

The Scotland Police have identified more than 500 children as possible victims of sexual abuse that took place online. The development comes as part of a series of investigations named Operation Latisse. The child protection services have been notified to 122 of the 523 children said to have been identified as possible victims.

As part of the action, the police have charged 77 people on a variety of counts, including but not limited to "rape, sharing indecent images of children and grooming for sexual purposes," according to a BBC report. Other charges include "sexual extortion, indecent communication with children, possession of a firearm, bestiality and drugs offences."

The police have also discovered close to 30 million images of children that can be deemed indecent in nature. In one case, a computer was found to have 10 million images that depicted child abuse in some form or other. In another case, one suspect is said to have been communicating with as many as 110 children and youngsters.

According to the Police Scotland, the sheer number of images that have been found, it would take six months for four of its full-time officers to review all of them.

Operation Latisse spanned more than a month — from June 6 to July 15 — and involved 134 separate investigations, as part of which the homes of as many as 83 suspects were raided and subjected to comprehensive searches. A huge number of electronic devices, including 547 computers, were seized during the length of this operation. 

Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham, who was at the forefront of the investigations, was quoted as saying by BBC: "This is not sexting in terms of people sending abusive messages to each other. This is children being sexually abused and these images being shared. It is about real victims in Scotland and elsewhere. It's about these horrific acts which ruin people's lives and we need to make sure that stops."