A report has found that more than a hundred Scots have been confronted by “paedophile hunters” in the last year.
The study by STV News found that evidence gathered by vigilante groups “resulted in at least 66 out of 115 people” being reported to court, with at least 14 being convicted.
The groups, who call themselves ‘Hunters’, set up stings and pose as children online to try and catch adults who try to engage them in sexual conversations.
They then arrange to meet these adults before exposing them in a public place, often filming them before police are called.
The practice has many critics, with the vigilante group’s tactics and use of threatening behaviour coming into question.
In an interview with STV News, the Glasgow-born leader of one of the country’s biggest Paedophile Hunter groups, who wasn’t named for legal reasons, said: “I’ve got no care in the world for a paedophile’s safety. I just don’t care. My only concern is for the children.
“I embrace the word ‘vigilante’.
“I’m not scared of you calling me a vigilante, because a vigilante is someone who acts when the system fails. The system has failed.
“I’m not a vigilante who’ll go and dish out the justice myself. I’ll bring them to justice and I’ll hand all my evidence to the police.
Speaking with STV, a second ‘hunter’ then added: “It’s their fault... If they get battered or whatever, they shouldn’t have done what they did.”
It’s this relaxed attitude to violence that has led these groups to several incidents involving the police.
Earlier this year, members of Wolf Pack Hunters UK were warned off by police after confronting a suspected pervert in Forfar.
Residents in the area slammed members of the group’s violent actions.
While the same group led an angry mob in a stand off against police in West Lothian as they tried to get at a man in his home in the area, the incident lead to a car being set on fire nearby.