A group of paedophile hunters in Fleetwood have hailed a two year jail sentence handed out to 51 year old man who admitted trying to sexually groom young teenage girls.
The Guardian Angels organised a sting operation earlier this year which led to Darren Fletcher being arrested, charged and convicted of a number of offences.
Fletcher, who was then living on Shakespeare Road, has now pleaded guilty to three counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child and two counts of attempting to incite a child into sexual activity at Preston Crown Court.
He was jailed for two years and three months, was subject to a 10 year sexual harm prevention order, and must sign the sex offenders register for 10 years.
The Angels brought in the police as they confronted Fletcher after weeks of online contact with the suspect, using a decoy who pretended to be an under-age schoolgirl.
He was arrested while living in a halfway house in Fleetwood after the group showed officers some of the correspondence between the suspect and the decoy.
A member of the Guardian Angels team involved in the sting, and who has now set up a similar Fleetwood Enforcers group, said: “Everyone who does what we do is relieved to see the courts hand out jail sentences to the people we investigate. Obviously it is very satisfying for us.
“At the same time it is very worrying that these people are allowed out from jail, with child sex convictions, and are able to live so close to schools in the first place.
“We are not vigilantes, we work with the police, but if we just handed our suspicions to the police without following through in the way they do, our fear is that the files might not be looked at straightaway.
“We need to get these people off our streets quickly.”
But Lancashire Police said in a statement: “We urge absolute caution before anyone considers such activity and would ask that people have confidence in the police and other law enforcement in our prioritisation in tackling grooming and child abuse whether that be on or offline.
“We would ask the public to contact us at the earliest opportunity if they suspect such behaviour rather than take the law into their own hands. When they do such, it could to compromise on-going investigations.
“The activities can also cause vulnerable individuals to be placed at serious risk of harm.”