Police chiefs in South Yorkshire have issued a warning that paedophile hunters may be putting prosecutions at risk
The warning came after a video of a group of paedophile hunters confronting a Barnsley man about his online activity was posted on Facebook and viewed over 50,000 times.
It was claimed that the man had been having sexually explicit online conversations with a 15-year-old boy.
South Yorkshire Police said the force understands the concerns there are about 'the internet activity of paedophiles and the danger they present to children' but urged those with information to refrain from taking the law into their own hands.
A spokeswoman said: “South Yorkshire Police would encourage the reporting of any concerns relating to the abuse of a child.
“We understand the concerns relating to the internet activity of paedophiles and the danger they present to children but stress that activity by independent groups could lead to the commission of offences, including the obstruction of legitimate police operations and should be left to law enforcement.
“South Yorkshire Police cannot provide backing for proposed unauthorised activity to target paedophiles online.
"We would encourage those persons undertaking or considering undertaking such activity to consider the impact their activity may have on their own safety and that of others and if necessary take independent legal advice on proposed activity.
“It should also be recognised that any ‘evidence’ provided could be excluded from any prosecution as being illegally obtained.
"Law enforcement officers who undertake undercover activities are specially trained to do so, and work under strict authorities and the control of senior officers. This process ensures the provenance of any evidence which is collected.”
Contact South Yorkshire Police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.