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NSPCC reports record levels of child online grooming

Police data shows record number of child grooming incidents during first pandemic year, NSPCC says.

After a review of data obtained by the NSPCC through a Freedom of Information data request from 42 police forces the charity has reported a 70% increase in cases compared to crimes reported in 2017/18.

In total 5,441 crimes were reported with almost half of the offences using Facebook owned Apps, including Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. However, the true scale of grooming is thought likely to be higher as Facebook technical failures saw a drop in the removal of abuse material during the pandemic.

Andy Burrows, Head of Child Safety Online Policy at the NSPCC, said:

“Year after year tech firms’ failings result in more children being groomed and record levels of sexual abuse.

To respond to the size and complexity of the threat, the Government must put child protection front and centre of legislation and ensure the Online Safety Bill does everything necessary to prevent online abuse.

Safety must be the yardstick against which the legislation is judged and Ministers’ welcome ambition will only be realised if it achieves robust measures to keep children truly safe now and in the future.”