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Figures from West Yorkshire Police have shown an increase in child sexual grooming cases of nearly 60 per cent. Significantly, the figures indicated a record number of children being targeted on the social media platform, Instagram.

The Figures

  • A total of 473 offences of sexual communication with a child were recorded in the region in the year to April 2019 compared with 297 in the previous year.
  • At a national level, 4,373 offences of sexual communication with a child were recorded in the year to April 2019 compared with 3,217 in the previous year.
  • More than one in five offences were against children aged 11 or under, where the age of the child was known.

Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC commented:- “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.”

Figures obtained also show that over the last two years, in the Yorkshire and Humber Region, 75 per cent of offences were via Social Media platforms.

The Government has indicated it will publish a draft Online Harms Bill early next year. The proposals would introduce independent regulation of social networks, with tough sanctions if they fail to keep children safe.

The figures from the police are stark. Social Media, whilst often used for good, can also present as a huge danger for young and vulnerable children. It is clear that action needs to be taken as soon as possible in order to safeguard children from the dangers online.

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