Child abuse image offences up by 35 per cent in Essex since last year

Child abuse image offences up by 35 per cent in Essex since last year

Number of indecent image offences in Essex up from 568 in 2016/17 to 767 in 2017/18

A child abuse image offence is recorded every 23 minutes by police in the UK

NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign calls for tough regulator to hold social networks to account

THE number of child abuse image offences recorded by police in Essex has risen by 35 per cent in a year, the NSPCC has revealed.

New figures obtained via Freedom of Information requests to every police force found an offence was recorded on average every 23 minutes in 2017/18 in the UK, and that the number of offences has risen by almost a quarter in a year to 22,724.

Last year (2016/17), Essex Police recorded 568 offences and the figure has risen to 767 in 2017/18.

The charity is warning that offenders are using social networks to target children for abuse online, grooming and manipulating them into sending naked images. Without adequate support the impact of this abuse can last a lifetime.

A single offence recorded by police can involve hundreds of indecent images of children.

The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on Government to prevent abuse from happening in the first place by introducing an independent regulator to hold social networks to account and tackle grooming to cut off the supply of these images at source.

Last month, an NSPCC survey of 40,000 young people revealed an average of one in 50 schoolchildren had sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult.

In February, Matthew Falder was jailed for 32 years after blackmailing young people into sending him humiliating pictures of themselves which he shared on abuse forums2.

And in July, Basildon pensioner Michael Aspland was jailed for making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

Tony Stower, NSPCC’s head of child safety online, said: “Every one of these images represents a real child who has been groomed and abused to supply the demand of this appalling trade.

“The lack of adequate protections on social networks has given offenders all too easy access to children to target and abuse. This is the last chance saloon for social networks on whose platforms this abuse is often taking place.

“Our Wild West Web campaign is calling on Government to introduce a tough independent regulator to hold social networks to account and tackle grooming to cut off supply of these images at source.”

While UK authorities work to remove child abuse images from the internet new images are constantly uploaded. In 2017, the Internet Watch Foundation identified over 78,000 URLs containing child sexual abuse images3.

The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on Government to create an independent regulator to hold social networks to account. Join the NSPCC’s campaign and sign the petition online.

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