A particularly controversial aspect of pedophile hunter groups' work is the "livestreaming" of stings – documenting their direct challenges to predators online as they happen, for the world to see.
The practice is widespread, but contentious even among hunter groups themselves. While some enthusiastically livestream, others don't – NCP once fell in the former category, but now the latter, at least for the time being.
In essence, it's an experiment to see whether the police will be more likely to work NCP – if greater cooperation isn't forthcoming, they'll start it up again. "It's a tricky question. I recognize publicly exposing predators means people could take the law into their own hands. But still, there's a lot of value in it – without exposure, others a target has preyed on may not come forward. For example, one case, due to go to court February 14, involves a guy who had 11 different decoys working on him, from different groups. When we finally got him, it turned out he'd been seen outside school gates, harassed people on the street, and more. There's no hiding once we've done it – and they can't say we assaulted them, and are less likely to assault us," Raz told Sputnik.
"Less likely" is an important qualifier – NCP's activities put their operatives at significant risk of reprisal from exposed predators, and/or their associates. As a result, every member of the team uses a pseudonym, is prepared for the worst on stings, and stays vigilant whenever out in public and 'off duty'. To date, Raz has had just one brush with fate – a predator attempted to set his dog on her. However, luckily for her, and unluckily for the target, she's a dog handler by trade, and the canine in question was a "friendly" Akita, which "didn't know what it was meant to do."
Nonetheless, for NCP, such hazards are a price worth paying. "Of course I worry about retaliation, especially as I have children of my own, but these are extremely dangerous people and I'm committed to getting them off the streets. Recently, another group stung a pedophile – when the police searched his vehicle, they found rope, condoms, all sorts. There are many cases of pedophiles grooming kids online then raping and murdering them. Some predators we speak to openly talk about wanting to rape children. Even just receiving messages like that damages kids for life. If I can stop that happening to anyone, I'll have succeeded," Raz told Sputnik.
Evidently, whether law enforcement officials like it or not, NCP and other groups of their ilk aren't going anywhere anytime soon – and evidence they gather is becoming increasingly significant in criminal cases.Figures show
the proportion of English, Welsh and Northern Irish court cases using hunter group evidence rose from 11 percent in 2014 to 44 percent in 2016. In the first week of January this year alone, there were 56 arrests for online grooming based on pedophile hunters exposing them. YouGov data
also indicates 58 percent of the public support official police collaboration with groups like NCP, if it means more predatory sex pests are brought to justice.