Lewis Edwards, a police officer, was recently convicted of grooming young girls over Snapchat, a social media platform where images can be sent between people and disappear after 24 hours unless screenshotted. The police officer of Cefn Glas, Bridgend, victimised girls as young as ten-years-old over the app. He was arrested on the grounds of 106 offenses, including: grooming, possession of child sexual abuse imagery, and threatening and blackmailing his young victims (Sky News, 2023).
Edwards, 24, was a serving South Wales police officer since 2021, and has recently, due to the following investigation, been placed on the barred list, where he can never return to police life. Edwards would bully and blackmail girls aged from ten to sixteen into sending him sexually explicit images for him to collect. His own precinct discovered this when South Wales Police found he was attempting to download child abuse images from the dark web at work (Wales Online, 2023). Not only that, but the evidence points to Edwards receiving these indecent images as far back as 2020, before he was a serving police officer (BBC News, 2023).
After pleading guilty in May 2023, and going through hearing proceedings since August, the disgraced officer now faces a life sentence, with a minimum of twelve years in prison (The Standard, 2023). The final charges included the possession of over 4,500 child abuse images, and 160 accounts of child sexual abuse and blackmail (BBC News, 2023).
Judge Tracey Lloyd-Clarke stated when sentencing Edwards to 12 years minimum in prison:
"It is clear that he not only gained sexual gratification from his offending but he also enjoyed the power and control he had over these young girls" (BBC News, 2023).
Among the victims were Edwards' young sisters who were thirteen and fifteen at the time. In his possession, he had nude images of his sister and a video of one in a sexual act. According to the prosecutor, Roger Griffiths, these indecent images were saved “in her file” on his devices. Further investigation revealed that Edwards would received child abuse images on his phone while on duty on over thirty occasions at work (BBC News, 2023).
This is a case that will definitely further the damage the public has in the police forces across the UK. Moreover, this may spark a discussion on the need for better background checks, especially for people in public services who are dealing with vulnerable people.
Edited by: Anwen Venn
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