Joe Purshouse is a lecturer in criminal law in the University of East Anglia's (UEA) School of Law whose research focus is on the human rights of those subject to the criminal process.
Dr Purshouse said: “For the first time the Supreme Court will consider the impact of the activities of paedophile hunters on human rights.
“Owing to advances in technology and social media, these groups have been able to conduct undercover sting operations that were traditionally the reserve of professional and well-resourced police forces. However, unlike the police, these amateur groups have been able to operate without adhering to the same oversight and authorisation regulations that undercover police officers do when they infiltrate chatrooms to investigate child sexual exploitation.
“There are many active paedophile hunter groups in the UK and their practices vary. Some have assaulted those they confront, whereas others groups try to provide lawful assistance to the police.
“The case considers whether human rights law requires these groups to adhere to covert police investigation regulations, if the police wish to rely on their evidence in subsequent prosecutions. It could have serious implications for whether these groups can continue to operate without adhering to the same rules and regulations that constrain the investigations of state police forces.”