Rise in number of offences relating to indecent images of children

A charity has warned of the impact of online grooming of children
Seanín Graham

THE number of child abuse image offences recorded by police in Northern Ireland has risen by 11 per cent in just one year.

Figures obtained by the NSPCC also reveal an an offence was recorded on average every 23 minutes by police forces in England, Scotland, Wales and the north last year.

The child protection charity is warning that offenders are using social networks to target children for abuse online, grooming and manipulating them into sending naked photographs.

A Freedom of Information request discovered that PSNI detective had received dealt with almost 1000 cases related to indecent images of children over the past two years, with 478 recorded in 2017/18.

Campaigners are calling for an independent regulator to hold social networks, such as Facebook and Snapchat, to account to tackle online grooming.

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."

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