Five online “pedo hunters” arrested along with grooming suspect
Six men were arrested after a violent incident in Park Sonsbeek in Arnhem on Saturday evening, the police said on Tuesday. Five of them are self-described "pedo hunters" who were arrested for using violence against the sixth man. He is suspected of grooming a child for sexual abuse, the police said.
"Statements indicate that the five men were hunting men who want to meet minors for sex, so-called 'pedo hunters'," the police said. The sixth man was lured to Arnhem by someone posing as an underage girl online, and a call was posted in a private WhatsApp group for people to go and unmask him. The five suspects responded to this call, the police said.
When the suspected groomer arrived at the park in his car, he was forced off the road by another car. The suspected groomer's door was pulled open and the man got out. A fight ensued, in which the man sustained injuries to his face, the police said. Witnesses called the police, who broke up the fight and arrested all involved.
Five men, aged between 19 and 36 years old from the provinces of Gelderland, Utrecht and Overijssel, are suspected of public violence. "They themselves declared that it was a citizens' arrest," the police said. "However, based on camera images and statements, the image does not arise that it was necessary to use violence against the man, and that is why the five were also arrested."
The sixth man, a man from Gelderland, was arrested on suspicion of grooming. "He is suspected of wanting to make an appointment with a minor and possibly having sex."
All of the suspects have since been released from custody, but remain suspects.
"In general, we see that citizens are increasingly taking action themselves to track down perpetrators. And the police and Public Prosecution Service are positive about this if everyone adheres to the rules," the police said. "Doing your own investigation into your bicycle theft and detaining the thief in the act and handing them over to the police is a great help and contributes to more safety in society. But investigation into child abuse by citizens is a lot more complicated."
"We strongly advise citizens not to pretend to be minors in order to track down potential groomers. It should never be the intention for citizens to take the law into their own hands. When criminal offenses are committed, the police will always investigate this."