Rise in cyber-related sex crimes against children in Norfolk and Suffolk
Norfolk and Suffolk children are increasingly being targeted on the web by sex offenders, NSPCC figures have revealed.
Last year, a record 168 child sexual offences with an online element were logged by police forces in Norfolk and 164 in Suffolk.
That’s an increase of 136 per cent from 2015/16 figures for Norfolk, when 71 offences were recorded and a 343 per cent increase for Suffolk, with 37 offences recorded.
A total of 40 out of 44 forces across the UK provided the NSPCC with data on cyber-related sex crimes against under 18s including online grooming, sexual communication with a child, and rape.
For offences where the age was recorded, 13 was the most common age of the victim but there were 185 offences committed against children across the East of England aged ten and under; including babies yet to reach their first birthday.
The number of crimes nationally has doubled in the last four years since police began recording whether an offence had an internet element with a cyberflag, up from 4,042 in 2015/16.
The NSPCC fears that the figures may not reveal the true extent of the problem due to potential under-recording of the role of online in these crimes and wide logging variation across forces.
It also comes on top of other online harms against children recorded by police such as indecent image offences.
NSPCC’s flagship annual conference How Safe Are Our Children? took place just days before the government closes its consultation on its Online Harms White Paper, which proposes to introduce an independent regulator to enforce a legal duty of care on tech companies to keep users safe on their platforms.
The NSPCC has led the charge on this for the past two years with its Wild West Web campaign.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: “Behind each offence is a child suffering at the hands of sex offenders and, worryingly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg.
“Far too many children are drowning in a sea of online threats so it’s now time for the next Prime Minister, whoever he may be, to cast out the life jacket.
“He must hold his nerve and introduce an independent regulator to protect children from the risks of abuse and harmful content.”