13,000 online child sex offences could be recorded during Online Safety Bill delay

Over 100 web sex crimes against children will be recorded every day as this vital legislation continues to be delayed.


We estimate that more than 13,0001 online child sex offences will have been recorded by police while the Online Safety Bill was delayed over the summer.

The legislation was due back in Parliament today (Tuesday November 1st) after it was delayed in July – but it's been pushed back even further following the appointment of the new Prime Minister.

We're warning that 100 plus online grooming and child abuse image crimes are likely to be recorded with every day families wait for legislation that protects their children.2

No date has been set for the Online Safety Bill to return and the junior minister responsible for delivering the legislation, Damian Collins, left his post on Thursday.

Children and families shouldn't be paying the price as the Bill sits in Parliamentary purgatory. This is despite the Culture Secretary promising to prioritise strengthened legislation.

Childline counselling sessions about online grooming have jumped 35% in the last six months (April to September) compared to previous year.3

In response to the uncertainty, almost 50,000 people signed a petition calling on the Prime Minister to make it his mission to pass the Online Safety Bill as soon as possible.4

The petition has been sent to Rishi Sunak alongside a letter from Louise* who was groomed and abused online from the age of 11.

Louise* wrote:


“Unregulated online spaces meant my abuser could use several platforms to groom, abuse, and manipulate me without ever having to leave his home.

“Online grooming by its very nature is intense and deceptive, and it took me a long time to realise that what happened to me was not my fault. 

“Sadly, too many children are still going through the same thing I did. They are still not safe from grooming and sexual abuse online. 

“But you can change this. You have the power to stop this happening to other young people.”

*Name changed to protect anonymity

We're also concerned that social media remains awash with dangerous material like that which contributed to the tragic death of Molly Russell after Instagram and Pinterest were found to contribute to her death in September.

We first secured the commitment to regulate social media four years ago in a bid to combat the inaction of Silicon Valley to abuse taking place against children on their platforms.

The legislation would put a duty of care on companies for their users and mean they would have to put measures in place to prevent and disrupt child abuse on their sites and protect children from harm.

The Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has said the Online Safety Bill, which was in the 2019 Conservative manifesto, is her number one priority and promised to strengthen it for children.

She can do this by ensuring the legislation makes senior managers responsible for child safety and liable if their sites contribute to serious harm and abuse of children.

We want every platform to have to put measures in place to protect children from harmful and distressing content like that which contributed to Molly Russell's death – not just those that have a 'significant' number of child users.

We're also seeking a watchdog to stand up for children against the power of Big Tech to ensure regulation works in their interests and responds to emerging risks from fast-moving technology.

NSPCC Chief Executive, Sir Peter Wanless, said:


“It will be incredibly frustrating for survivors of online child abuse and families up and down the country to see this vital legislation delayed yet again.

“The scale of online child abuse and continued inaction from tech firms to tackle damaging suicide and self-harm content being targeted at children should be a wake-up call to the Prime Minister to make passing the Online Safety Bill his mission.

“There is overwhelming public consensus for the crucial legislation to be bought back as a priority and with strengthened protections for children, so they are systemically and comprehensively safe from harm and abuse for years to come.”

Previous YouGov research for the NSPCC found more than four fifths of UK adults think the Online Safety Bill should deliver strong and comprehensive measures to protect children.


  1. 1. The NSPCC calculates that in the 113-day period between 12 July (when the legislation was last in Parliament) until 1 November (when it was due to be back in Parliament), the police are likely to have recorded more than 13,000 offences.

  2. 2. According to the Home Office police-recorded crime data, there were 42,503 combined Sexual Grooming (7,025) and Obscene Publication (35,478) offences recorded by police in England in Wales in 2021/22. This is the equivalent of an average of 116 a day.

  3. 3. Between 1 April 2022 and 31 September 2022, Childline delivered 132 counselling sessions relating to online grooming, up 35% from 98 counselling sessions during the same period the year before.

  4. 4. 48,876 people signed a petition calling on the Prime Minister to prioritise the Online Safety Bill in the month the petition was active.