A former South Wales police officer has pleaded guilty to more than 100 counts of inciting children to engage in sexual activity online.
Lewis Edwards, 23, from Bridgend, posed as a teenager on Snapchat to get girls as young as 12 to send him pictures and videos he had secretly taken.
He then used the footage to blackmail his victims and force them to send him ever more descriptive and explicit images.
Edwards, who appeared at Cardiff Crown Court on Tuesday, was a police officer on duty when his “extreme” and “predatory” crimes were exposed.
During his arrest, Edwards’ home was searched and a number of heavily encrypted electronic devices and a blackmail manual were seized.
The South Wales Police (SWP) online investigation team said it had already identified a dozen victims but was working as a priority to identify more.
During the hearing, Edwards admitted to a total of 106 felonies, including extortion, inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, forcing a child to spectate a sexual act, sexual communication, taking indecent pictures of children, possession of indecent pictures of children, and a single distribution charge .
He will be sentenced on August 23.
Edwards was immediately suspended from duty after his arrest and later resigned, police said.
It added: “An expedited misconduct hearing was held which imposed the dismissal. He was placed on the blacklist, preventing him from returning to the police force.”
Edwards is said to have used his job to tell his victims that he was not being investigated.
Detective Inspector Tracey Rankine, head of the police’s online investigation team, said Edwards’ victims “lived in fear of him”.
SWP Deputy Chief of Police Danny Richards defended the police screening process, saying it was “only one of two processes recently in the country initiated by His Majesty’s Inspection regarding the way we conduct screening of officers and staff and how effectively we protect information rated as good.” and data we hold and how well corruption is managed.
He added: “The public will be as shocked and outraged as I am that such appalling crimes have been committed by an acting police officer.”
“Lewis Edwards’ behavior only damages public confidence in policing and undermines the work of the vast majority of responsible, hard-working police officers who serve the communities of South Wales with courage and pride.”
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