Online grooming of children DOUBLES in Wiltshire

Online grooming of children DOUBLES in Wiltshire

Published by Faye Tryhorn at 5:35am 11th September 2019.

The NSPCC's released figures showing how many young people are being targeted on apps like Instagram.

Across Wiltshire in the year to April 2019, there were 54 cases of sexual communication with a child recorded by the county's police.

That's up from 28 in the previous year.

The offence only came into force in 2017, following a campaign by the NSPCC, aimed at better protecting children.

This comes just a couple of weeks after the charity revealed a third of children in the South West have given out personal details to strangers online.

Online Grooming Cyber Crime Hacking Computer Fraud
Do you know who your children are talking to online?

NATIONAL FIGURES

A total of 4,373 offences were recorded across England and Wales in 2018/19.

The number of incidents involving Instagram is more than double that of the previous year. 

More than 70% of the cases saw Facebook-owned apps (Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram) used by offenders to contact young people.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: 

"It's now clearer than ever that Government has no time to lose in getting tough on these tech firms.  

"Despite the huge amount of pressure that social networks have come under to put basic protections in place, children are being groomed and abused on their platforms every single day.  

These figures are yet more evidence that social networks simply won't act unless they are forced to by law. The Government needs to stand firm and bring in regulation without delay." 

Cyber-related sex crimes have been rising in Wiltshire over recent years, with 54 cases reported last year. 

child computer PIXABAY
There's a push from the NSPCC for social media companies to do more to prevent children being targeted

FREYA'S STORY

The NSPCC has shared the story of Freya (not her real name), who was 12 years old when she was targeted.

She was staying at a friend's house when a stranger bombarded her Instagram account with sexual messages and videos. 

Her mum Pippa (also an alias) told the charity: 

"She was quiet and seemed on edge when she came home the next day. I noticed her shaking and knew there was something wrong so encouraged her to tell me what the problem was. 

"When she showed me the messages, I just felt sick. It was such a violation and he was so persistent. He knew she was 12, but he kept bombarding her with texts and explicit videos and images. 'Freya' didn't even understand what she was looking at. There were pages and pages of messages, he just didn't give up.

"Our children should be safe in their bedrooms, but they're not. They should be safe from messages from strangers if their accounts are on private, but they're not." 

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