Information from so-called paedophile hunters was used to press charges more than 150 times last year, a BBC investigation has revealed.
But despite the figures, police forces have backed their own stance that vigilantes should stop taking the law into their own hands.
Paedophile hunting groups operate by using fake social media profiles of children to strike up contact with suspects before confronting them face to face and alerting police.
Several men in and around Huddersfield have been charged with sex offences following stings from such groups in the past year, including binman Robert Pearson, 56, from Honley, and Ian Kershaw, 52, from Bradford, who was caught trying to meet what he thought was a 13-year-old girl at Huddersfield Railway Station in January.
The BBC sent Freedom of Information requests to all police forces in England and Wales on people charged on the back of civilians confronting suspects.
Of the 43 forces, 29 provided data (67%). The figures revealed a seven-fold increase in people charged following work from vigilantes over two years - up from 20 in 2015 to 150 in 2017.
The data confirms that evidence from such groups was used in some part and does not claim their actions were solely responsible for charging suspects.
In spite of this, West Yorkshire Police maintain that such groups should stop trying to take the law into their own hands as it may interfere with ongoing undercover police operations, pose “significant risks” to safety or could even result in libel lawsuits.
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson told the BBC: “It does present significant risks when these groups confront individuals, first of all for themselves. These are often very high-octane, emotional situations.
“There is significant risk involved for the individuals that they are confronting, not least because it might sometimes be an innocent member of the public or it might actually disrupt a wider undercover policing investigation that we’ve got ongoing.”
Earlier this year West Yorkshire Police sent a warning letter to various paedophile hunter groups.
The letter asked the groups to “cease from any similar activity in the future”, including posing as a child on the internet to catch out suspects and added that their actions could “amount to harassment.”
A number of high-profile cases of groups confronting suspects locally have resulted in men being jailed over the past year.
Honley sex offender Robert Pearson was jailed for eight months last month when it was found he had been texting what he thought was a 14-year-old boy and arranging to meet him for sex.
In November Mark Shah, 43, of Stoneyhurst Avenue, Dewsbury, was jailed for three years and two months after he arranged to meet a girl at Dewsbury Railway Station who was in fact a member of the group Silent Justice.