To start on a light note, and at the risk of making a series of incredibly bad puns, I wish to note that in our American linguist Inc. lexicon we have had fortune hunters, Easter egg hunters, the infamous and racist “Great White Hunters,” sunken treasure hunters, and especially in America which probably still is one of the preeminent shopper cultures, the ever famous “bargain hunters.”
To this list I wish to add a new phenomenon that took me somewhat by surprise a very few days ago when one of my trusty search bots which brings me legal, psychiatric, philosophical, social policy related terms having to do with the infamous topic of pedophilia, turned up a one episode installment of The Guardian British newspaper’s podcast series which focused on a group in Scotland known as the Wolfpack, and specifically a housewife who lives east of Glasgow who heads up a loose network of citizen pedophile hunters.
I have enclosed herein the URL link to this single podcast episode which features the reporter Libby Brooks and her profile of the housewife “Cici.”
The loose-knit pedophile hunting organization, Wolfpack apparently has been in existence for at least 18 months according to the podcast. Their sting operations have resulted in prosecutions on an impressive frequency of approximately four per month. This group apparently consists of ordinary citizens who pose as underage minors on social media websites and make themselves available in disguise and “pick up” pedophiles who frequent such sites and make online overtures to the hunters. The hunters then reel them in with a series of back and forth social media texts and posts and eventually meet up with the predatory pedophiles in person. The hunters take care to identify themselves as underage and state their ages variously as below the age of consent in the United Kingdom. This is an effort to give the predators every opportunity to back out of the interaction, I suppose to avoid the taint of illegal entrapment. I make this tentative assertion out of knowing ignorance, as I have NO idea about how the concept of entrapment is handled in the UK.
The podcast is sort of fascinating because these interactions are not only recorded but are also streamed live (!) on Facebook and have gobs of interested persons who view them live. The reactions of the pedophiles when they realize they have been nabbed and apprehended ranges from dishonest excuses to actually emotionally breaking down crying etc. as the police are called and close in to arrest them.
There is commentary that is very well done to give the listener a great deal to think about and reflect upon. I, for instance, found myself still wondering from an American’s point of view with a cautious backdrop of respect for an individual’s legal rights even when being arrested, of worrying that this still constituted a degree of entrapment. But the other moralistic, ethical, and mental health side to me, still felt that this was probably a legitimate enterprise although a very novel and unique one. Part of me could not help but applaud the efforts of these citizen anti-pedophile crusaders.
I don’t know of a similar effort in my home country the United States. I have no idea how this would be accepted in legal circles and how law enforcement agencies at any level whether local regional state level or federal–national would accept and work with such an effort. I have known for years that with the rise of the Internet many law enforcement agencies have begun to go after sexual predators utilizing the Internet as a platform to draw these individuals out, and utilize similar techniques of posing as underage vulnerable individuals and to gather enough proof, evidence and confirmation of the identities of such individuals thereby making possible legal arrests and prosecutions. I have not known of citizens undertaking such efforts though, for all I know, such efforts have been ongoing for years and I just haven’t run across them.
But this podcast episode is fascinating since it tells all in that it records the face-to-face interactions once the pedophiles are revealed. And the technique of streaming and broadcasting the interactions with the ped for pedophiles live on Facebook was quite startling to me and perhaps altogether a new phenomenon in this arena.
I leave it to the reader to listen to this podcast episode from The Guardian newspaper and render their own judgment.