Tough rules needed to halt abuse - The Evesham Observer

Tough rules needed to halt abuse

Evesham Editorial 24th Sep, 2018   0

A LEADING charity has warned of the need of a tough regulator for the internet after new figures revealed more than 500 child abuse image offences were committed in West Mercia force area last year.

New figures obtained by the NSPCC via Freedom of Information requests to every police force found an offence was recorded on average every 23 minutes in 2017/18.

West Mercia Police recorded 517 offences in the past year, slightly down from the 530 reported by the force in 2016/17. The number of child abuse image offences recorded by police in the UK rose by almost a quarter in a year to 22,724.

The charity is warning 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 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.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid warned tech giants in a speech earlier this month he would not be afraid to take action if more isn’t done to tackle child sexual abuse online.

Mr Javid demanded companies such as Facebook, Google and Twitter take more measures or face the prospect of new legislation.

The Bromsgrove MP said: “I’ve been impressed by the progress the likes of Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple have made on counter-terrorism.

“Now I want to see the same level of commitment from these companies and others for child sexual exploitation.”

Tony Stower, NSPCC’s head of child safety online, 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.

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.


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