WORK from Essex Police has been commended after a “horrific” man who abused and blackmailed dozens of victims after contacting them using social media was jailed for 21 years.

Jay Lang, 24, of Thorney Bay Road, Canvey, targeted victims from Canvey, Benfleet, Basildon and Southend between April 2018 and November 2021.

Lang pressured boys into sexualised conversations and asked them to send images and videos.

Essex Police’s specialist child exploitation proactive investigation team uncovered 540 videos and 140,000 images on Lang’s devices, leading to 46 charges.

Detective Sergeant Ben Rushmere, lead for the child sexual exploitation proactive investigation team, said: “Today’s sentence rightly highlights the true scale of Lang’s horrific offending.

“He used social media to prey upon young people and exploit them either for financial gain or for his own gratification.

“But much more important than Lang, I would like to commend each and every victim, and their families, who came forward and worked with us.

“It is only with their candour and support that we have been able to build a case so strong that Lang was left with no other option but to admit 46 extremely serious offences.”

Once images had been exchanged, Lang would reveal himself as a man and either make blackmail demands for additional images or money.

In the case of two victims, Lang arranged to meet with them. During those meetings, Lang did commit contact offences. Officers and staff trawled through hundreds of gigabits of phone data in order to identify social media accounts which Lang had interacted with.

Once that work was completed, each potential victim then had to be carefully approached and safeguarded.

Jeanette Smith, specialist prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service, said: “This conviction sends a clear message that the CPS, alongside the police, will work hard to bring justice to those who sexually abuse and exploit children, however that abuse takes place.

“We urge victims to report these crimes, – there is support out there and you are not alone.”

Judge Cohen praised the force for its work describing it as a “tour de force” which had stopped Lang’s offending.