Police have denied making a ?glut? of recent arrests relating to people using ?hidden digital cameras? to photograph women and children at London tourist attractions like Trafalgar Square.

Hitting out at an article that appeared yesterday in a free London newspaper ? headlined ??Pervs? lurk in Square? – a Metropolitan Police spokeswoman told us: ?It?s a bit of an exaggeration. It?s not a new issue. As far as we are concerned it?s not a major problem.?

The article, which appeared in thelondonpaper, reported that Trafalgar Square ?has become a magnet for deviants because millions of tourists are seen as easy prey, police believe?.

Speaking this morning, a police spokeswoman told us that there have been ?some arrests? in recent years over this matter ?at a number of locations across central London? but she claimed that – as far as she was aware ? the number of arrests this year has been no higher than last summer.

However, she told us that police do not hold a record of such arrests.

In a statement DCI Matt Sarti, from the Met’s Child Abuse Investigation Command, added: ?The Metropolitan Police Service take all offences against children extremely seriously. We will use all appropriate and legal methods to safeguard children and would urge anyone who believes a child to be at risk or believes someone is acting suspiciously to contact police.?

Last year AP forced a climbdown by London Mayor Ken Livingstone who appeared to take a heavy-handed attitude towards enthusiasts taking pictures in public as part of a police crackdown on paedophiles.

Livingstone had warned parents to be vigilant about strangers using digital cameras and camera phones to take pictures of children in London?s parks and ?other public spaces? (see AP 11 June 2005).

He had controversially suggested putting up warning signs in Greater London Authority-owned property, which includes Trafalgar Square.

The Mayor?s plans were later abandoned.