"Urgent action is needed to prevent this horrendous abuse from appearing online"
NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online
Claire Lilley, Head of Child Safety Online for the NSPCC, said:
"This is an alarming study and just a fragment of the hundreds of other similar convictions during the same period. The Prime Minister made a bold move in announcing a host of initiatives to tackle this problem, but it is clear that, 2 years after he called for a crackdown, the scale of the issue is proving to be massive.
"One of the major challenges facing police forces is that as technology advances offenders are inventing new ways to commit crimes. We heard cases about offenders live streaming abuse or grooming children through social networks under fake identities.
"We want all UK forces to step up to the challenge of tackling the vast amount of online offending taking place. But they need support. Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) recently published a report into how the UK’s police forces deal with the online sexual exploitation of children. Over half of the case files they looked at (52%) were judged to be inadequate or needing improvement. These are 20th century tactics for a 21st century crime.
"We want proper training and resources for officers, ensuring as many victims and offenders can be identified as possible when these crimes are being investigated. Latest technology can help. The new Child Abuse Image Database will enable quicker identification of images and victims. It’s not the whole solution but it’s a very positive step.
"We also want offenders to get the message that this is not a victimless crime. Offenders should stop convincing themselves that there is no harm in ‘just looking’. In every image there is a child who has been the victim of sexual abuse, and every time an adult looks at an image they risk desensitising themselves to that child’s horrific experiences. Just by looking, they increase the demand for more children to be abused, more children to endure this terrible crime.
"They also run the very real risk that when caught they stand to lose everything – their liberty, job, home and even family."