The team of detectives who helped to bring a disgraced former Radio 1 DJ to justice have won an international award to recognise their work.

Former Middlesbrough FC match announcer Mark Page was jailed for 18-years for systematically abusing young children when he travelled to the Philippines, last year.

The Cleveland Police officers won an Internet Intelligence Award at the Home Office’s International Digital Investigation Awards for “pushing boundaries” during their investigation and conviction of the child sex offender.

Page’s depraved behaviour was brought to light following a tip-off that his online activity was a serious cause for concern.

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Officers from Cleveland Police raided his Teesside home in January 2020 and discovered his computer switched on in his office.

The Northern Echo: Disgraced Mark PageDisgraced Mark Page

Detectives soon realised that it was logged into a Google account - at this time, the national understanding about cloud data was still in its early stages - and the team managed to take over the account and access the archive.

Detective Sergeant Kevin Carter said: “This archive provided a comprehensive picture of Page’s life, spanning devices used over a decade which showed he was geographically, photographically and financially linked to key locations where he committed his crimes.

"The locations included specific times and dates he stayed at hotels in the Philippines and this information was crucial to the investigation. “The data also included ‘Hey Google’ voice recordings made by Page which linked his distinctive radio voice to crimes he was committing with his victims overseas.

The Northern Echo: Mark Page's incriminating selfieMark Page's incriminating selfie

“Based on this data, we managed to identify three victims of exploitation in the Philippines who had been trafficked. We then worked with the National Crime Agency at the British Embassy in Manila who traced and safeguarded the victims.

“The defence position for Page scrutinised the data used in the investigation and it was presented to the College Digital Investigations Advisory Group and attracted the curiosity of TRACER (the National Crime Agency’s marquee unit for finding innovative ways to use technology) who had not seen this capability before. This contributed to the early national conversation around cloud capability in the UK.

“Page was rightly sentenced to a lengthy time in prison for the horrendous crimes he committed as a result of my teams’ investigation.”

A trawl of his files recovered a number of damning pieces of evidence, including a selfie he took in Cebu City just hours after he had sex with underage children.

Throughout his trial at Teesside Crown Court Page maintained that his accounts had been hacked.

However, forensic analysis of his digital footprint meant officers were able to place at the scene of his offences and recordings of him asking an online search engine 'what is the age of consent in the Philippines?'

The Northern Echo: Mark Page's online dating profileMark Page's online dating profile

Hiding behind his charity work and radio businesses, Page made regular visits to the Far East but also took full advantage of Skype calls to fulfil his depraved sexual behaviour by paying children to perform sex acts online.

He used a number of aliases to set up dating website profiles and Skype accounts in an attempt to mask his true identity, the jurors heard during the trial.

The Northern Echo: Cleveland Police officers Kev Carter, Jo Pain, Steve Rookes and Paul Ripley receiving their awardCleveland Police officers Kev Carter, Jo Pain, Steve Rookes and Paul Ripley receiving their award (Image: Cleveland Police)

Page, from Ingleby Barwick, was found guilty of two counts of attempting to cause/incite a girl under 13 to engage in sexual activity and two counts of arranging/facilitating the sexual exploitation of a child aged 13-17 years.

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Head of Major, Serious and Organised Crime, Detective Superintendent Anne-Marie Salwey, said: “This has been a complex investigation with a successful result, the court Recorder stated the detective work has been of the highest calibre’ and I completely agree.

“The knowledge and expertise of Kev Carter, Jo Pain, Steve Rookes and Paul Ripley has resulted in an international award being brought home to Teesside and most importantly, it has prevented further children from being exploited by Page.

“Cleveland Police can now officially say that we employ internationally recognised digital investigation experts and I am so proud of them for achieving this award.”