Trainee policeman, 31, groomed girls as young as nine on Snapchat

A student police officer who groomed up to 100 girls on social media has been jailed after one of the girl’s parents alerted police after spotting his vile texts. Jason Hicks, 31, begged girls across the world and in Britain, some as young as nine, to send him indecent photographs while he trained as an officer for Devon and Cornwall police.

While posing as a teenager called “Jack”, he used Snapchat and Tiktok to target the girls.

He would gain their trust before conversations became perverted and he started nagging them to send naked photographs.

Hicks hunted the girls on social media accounts and eventually moved the conversation to Snapchat – an app where text messages are programmed to delete automatically.

The disgraced Devonshire trainee cop was only spotted when the mum of a nine-year-old from Wiltshire spotted Hicks’ messages on her daughter’s phone in December 2021.

She alerted police who realised the suspect was none other than one of their upcoming officers.

Police found he had exchanged Snapchat messages with four children he thought were between 11 and 13 between December 2021 and January 2022.

But they think he may have been messaging 100 girls online. They were only able to discover a fraction of his activity because of Snap Chat’s auto-deleting messages.

From the chats they found, they discovered Hicks was egging girls on to play “truth or dare” before persuading them to strip and send intimate pictures on the app.

His victims include an American girl, 13, and two eleven year olds from Sweden.

The paedo had his home raided in January last year where police uncovered 1,000 indecent images on his laptop.

He confessed he had been sexually attracted to teens since he was a teenager himself and admitted to 13 offences relating to his online activity.

A psychiatric report concluded he had a compulsive sexual behaviour disorder and depression.

His defence lawyer, Miss Mary Aspinall-Miles said he had been receiving treatment or therapy to change his behaviour.

Hicks said he knew his behaviour was “100 percent wrong” and he “didn’t like being this way”.

Ms Miles added: “This is somebody who hates who he is and hates what he has done and knows the harm he has done.”

But a judge at Exeter Crown Court had little sympathy for Mr Hicks. Judge David Evans said Mr Hicks was a dangerous offender and on release would need to be closely monitored by the Parole Board.

He accepted that Hicks had been truly remorseful but denied the findings of two psychiatric reports.

“With the greatest respect for the reports, they each fail to properly engage with the elephant in the room, which is why you sought out so much contact with young children rather than adults and why you sought real sexual contacts rather than accessing existing online pornography.

“This was serious offending involving real life and real-world contact with individuals you knew or believed to be young girls at a time when you were a student police officer.

“I acknowledge you have lost the chance of the career you once wished for.”

Hicks was jailed for four years was also booted out of Devon and Cornwall police without any notice and placed on the College of Policing Barred list.

Temporary Assistant Chief Constable Steve Parker said: “We note and welcome the sentencing of Jason Hicks today for what are despicable offences.

“I would like to commend the bravery of the young victim in this case and her family in coming forward and reporting these appalling crimes.

Mr Hicks was found guilty of engaging in sexual communication with a child between March and April 2021, causing/inciting a child to engage in sexual activity between March and April 2021, and four counts of attempting to engage in sexual communication with children between December 2021 and January 2022.

He was also guilty of four counts of attempting to cause/incite children to engage in sexual activity between December 2021 and January 2022, and making indecent photographs of children between September 2012 and January 2022.

He was found in possession of 127 Category A images – depicting the most serious type of abuse – 260 Category B images and 841 Category C images.

Mr Parker added: “All police officers, including those in training, have a privileged role in being part of a Force responsible for the safeguarding of vulnerable people. The actions of Jason Hicks were wholly wrong and illegal and he now faces the consequences of that.

“Our Paedophile Online Investigation Team and Professional Standards Department acted swiftly as soon as these offences were brought to our attention and Hicks was immediately arrested and suspended. Accelerated misconduct proceedings meant he was dismissed soon after.

“Devon and Cornwall Police takes any reports of illegal or inappropriate conduct extremely seriously. All officers and staff are expected to abide by the Code of Ethics and ensure the highest standards of behaviour, both on and off duty.

“I can reassure the public that the overwhelming majority of our officers and staff work diligently to help to keep the public safe, uphold our high standards and provide an exceptional service to our communities. We will always take the appropriate action when standards fall below those expected and continue to learn from any instances where they do.”

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