The number of child sex abuse image offences being recorded by police in North Wales has risen by 30% new figures have revealed.
North Wales Police said is dealt with 373 child abuse image offences in 2017/18 – up from 287 the previous year.
Welsh police forces have recorded almost four offences relating to child abuse images per day in the past two years, NSPCC Cymru has revealed.
A total of 2,895 crimes concerning indecent images of children have been logged by police in Wales since 1 April 2016, according to new figures obtained by Freedom of Information requests – 1,437 in 2016/17 and 1,458 in 2017/18.
Three polices forces – South Wales, North Wales and Gwent – all saw a rise in the number of offences in the past year.
The largest increase was recorded by North Wales Police – up 30 % from 287 in 2016/2017 to 373 in 2017/2018.
In Wales, across the four forces, the most common offence related to taking, making or distributing indecent images – accounting for nearly two-thirds of all activity.
The number of child abuse images offences recorded by police in the UK rose by almost a quarter in a year to 22,724, meaning a crime relating to indecent images was committed every 23 minutes in 2017/2018.
The charity is warning that offenders are using social networks to target children for abuse online, grooming and manipulating them into sending naked images. Without adequate support the impact of this abuse can last a lifetime.
A single offence recorded by police can involve hundreds of indecent images of children.
The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on the UK Government to prevent abuse from happening in the first place by introducing an independent regulator to hold social networks to account and tackle grooming to cut off the supply of these images at source.
Earlier in the year, the NSPCC revealed there were 274 offences recorded in Wales within the first year of the introduction of the offence of sexual communication with a child.
And last month an NSPCC survey of 40,000 young people revealed an average of one in 50 schoolchildren had sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult.
In February, Matthew Falder was jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for 32 years after blackmailing young people into sending him humiliating pictures of themselves which he shared on abuse forums2
In Wales in August Shane Wakefield, of Swansea, was jailed for eight years at the city’s crown court for a series of online child sex offences including possessing indecent images.
Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru, 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.
“Our Wild West Web campaign is calling on the UK Government to introduce a tough independent regulator to hold social networks to account and tackle grooming to cut off supply of these images at source.”
While UK authorities work to remove child abuse images from the internet new images are constantly uploaded. In 2017, the Internet Watch Foundation identified over 78,000 URLs containing child sexual abuse images.
The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on the UK Government to create an independent regulator to hold social networks to account.