NSPCC estimates over 1,600 cybercrimes against children in the South West since Online Harms White Paper published

The NSPCC estimates that more than 25,300 child abuse image and sexual grooming offences have occurred since the Online Harms White Paper was published.

Based on the latest police recorded crime data from the first three months of 2019/2020, it is estimated an average of one online abuse offence against a child was recorded every 16 minutes in England and Wales in just over nine months.

In the South West, it was estimated that over 1,680 child abuse and sexual grooming offences have taken place since the Online Harms White Paper was introduced, which is an average of six offences a day.

It comes as the Online Harms Reduction Regulator Bill will be introduced into the House of Lords today (Tuesday), a Private Member’s Bill that requires Ofcom to prepare for regulation by effectively appointing it as an interim online harms regulator.

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The charity supports this bill as it speeds up the timescales for the Government to uphold their manifesto promise by introducing comprehensive legislation to protect children from abuse online. Until then, the charity estimates 90 online child abuse crimes a day could continue to happen.

The legislation would include the establishment of an online regulator that would enforce Duty of Care which would legally require social networks to ensure their platforms are safe for children to use and companies could face fines or criminal prosecution if they breach their responsibilities.

As part of its Wild West Web campaign, the charity has been calling for these plans since April 2018 as it would set a global standard for online child protection.

The children’s charity urges the Government to set out a clear timeline for implementation and to introduce a comprehensive Online Harms Bill to set out the powers of the Duty of Care regulator with child safety at the heart of it.

The charity said industry must acknowledge that regulation is coming by getting a handle on child abuse on their platforms and not waiting until the last possible moment to keep children safe.

Andy Burrows, NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online Policy, said: “By our estimates, an average of 90 potential online abuse crimes against children come to light a day, so it is crystal clear regulation cannot come soon enough.

“The Prime Minister must confirm plans to press ahead with a comprehensive Duty of Care, and urgently introduce an Online Harms Bill that will deliver a well-resourced regulator with the powers to take on big tech.

“Anything less will let tech giants off the hook and have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of children, their families and law enforcement who are left to fight increasingly complex online child abuse day in and day out.”


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