New figures reveal 100 kids in North Wales targeted in cyber-related sex crimes last year
The internet was used to commit 100 child sexual offences in north Wales in the last 12 months according to figures obtained by NSPCC Wales.
Across Wales and England police are recording on average 15 internet-related sex crimes against children every day.
The latest figures highlight a worrying trend in how predators are using the internet to target children.
It’s the second year police have been required to ‘cyber flag’ any crime that involved the internet.
There were 5,653 cyber-flagged child sex crimes in Wales and England last year, up from 3,903 from the previous year.
The latest figures show a large jump in the number of cyber-flagged child sex crimes in Wales – 690 were logged in 2016/17 that figure doesn’t include crimes committed in the South Wales Police region, they failed to respond to the NSPCC freedom of information request.
All four Welsh forces did provide figures in 2015/16, when 296 child sex crimes had an online element in Wales.
The numbers across the three responding Welsh forces in 2016/17 show an increase of 57% versus the total across the four forces in 2015/16
North Wales: 100
In England, for offences where age was recorded, 13 was the most common age of the victim (257) but there were nearly 100 offences committed against children aged ten and under, with the youngest victim aged just three-years-old.
The charity is calling on the Welsh government to ensure its recently announced National Online Safety Action Plan is developed swiftly.
The Welsh Government revealed its intention to create a plan, following long-standing calls by the NSPCC.
The charity is also calling on the next UK government to make child online safety a top priority.
It is demanding:
An independent regulator to hold social media companies to account and fine them where they fail to protect children.
Government to draw up minimum standards that internet companies must meet to safeguard children.
Children to be automatically offered safer social media accounts, with default privacy settings, to protect them from harmful content and offenders who seek to prey on them.
The charity is also urging police forces to ensure all officers understand how people use the web to prey on children, how to investigate such crimes, and effectively safeguard victims.
Des Mannion, Head of NSPCC Wales, said:
These figures confirm our fears that offenders are exploiting the internet to target children for their own dark deeds.
Children also tell our Childline service that they are being targeted online by some adults who pose as children and try to meet them, or persuade them to perform sexual acts on webcams, before blackmailing them. This terrifies them and can leave some feeling worthless, depressed, and suicidal.
We cannot sit idly by knowing that more and more innocent young people are being harmed online.
NSPCC Wales has long called for a comprehensive online safety action plan and the Welsh Government’s decision to develop one is a step in the right direction. We hope these new measures will support professionals and parents to equip children and young people with the skills to stay safe on the web.
It’s absolutely critical that ministers create an advisory group – made up of experts from police, internet providers, education and child protection charities – to support the development of this new plan.
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