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More must be done to tackle online child abuse as referrals up by 700%

Release Date: 23 Jan 2018

Barnardo’s is calling for much more to be done to tackle online child abuse following the news that the UK's largest police force has seen a 700% increase in referrals since 2014.

The statistics show the National Crime Agency (NCA) alerted the Metropolitan Police to potential paedophiles operating over the internet on 647 occasions between January 1 and September 30 in 2017. Across the UK all forces have seen a pattern of almost year-on-year increases.

Barnardo’s Chief Executive, Javed Khan said:

These shocking figures show how widespread child sexual abuse images are online and how easily they’re shared. Last year Barnardo’s child sexual exploitation services reported a 38% rise. Our own research shows that many children are groomed online and then sexually exploited in the real world.

Sexual abusers are skilled in isolating children and exploiting their vulnerability to sexually abuse them, so it’s vital that the dangers of the digital world are covered in age appropriate relationships and sex education in schools.

Internet service providers that fail to safeguard children must be accountable for crimes taking place online. Government must also ensure police have the resources and training to find online predators, bring them to justice and stop more children being put at risk.

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