A BARROW groomer has been jailed after admitting trying to persuade a ‘teenager’ to engage in sexual activity. 

Brian Michael Johnson was arrested at Blackpool North Railway Station on July 27 of last year after he travelled to Lancashire believing he was meeting a young girl he had been talking to on a social networking site. 

Unbeknown to Johnson he had been tricked by a team of paedophile hunters who posed as a child in order to confront him. 

Using social networking site Bebo the then 59-year-old groomed his ‘victim’, who was actually an adult decoy part of the Forbidden child protection group. 

He then arranged to meet her in Blackpool and was ‘stung’ by Fleetwood Enforcers who shared the information with police and arranged for Johnson to be arrested. 

Volunteers who lure and catch paedophiles often operate as two separate groups because of the varying geographical locations involved.

One will act as the decoy and pretend to be a child in an online forum or chat and the other will arrange to confront the paedophile. 

Following an investigation by British Transport Police, whose officers arrested Johnson at the railway station, he was charged with attempting to incite a child to engage in sexual activity and attempting to meet a girl aged under 16 following sexual grooming. 

He was remanded in custody at Preston Prison and on Friday, 11 days before his 60th birthday, Johnson was jailed for 24 months. 

He was also given a 10-year Sexual Harm Protection Order, must comply with the Sex Offenders’ Register for 10 years and on his release is not allowed to have any contact with children aged under 16. 

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on child protection, warned that paedophile hunters can undermine potential prosecutions.

“We understand the desire to protect children but any member of the public who has information about child sexual abuse, online or otherwise, should get in contact with the police so we can investigate and bring people to justice,” he said. “So called paedophile hunters are taking risks they don’t understand and can undermine police investigations.

“Most importantly, unlike our officers, they have no way of safeguarding child victims.

“Our approach to these groups has not changed. We may consider working with these groups in certain instances, if it helps us protect children and we can manage the risks of their involvement. 

“But this is not the solution to the problem of abuse.”