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80,000 people in the UK pose a sexual threat to children online

In the last five years the number of child abuse images referred to the agency have surged 700% according to new statistics. During 2017-18, the National Crime Agency safeguarded 2,037 children.

The National Crime Agency also revealed on average at the end of 2017, there were 438 arrests made and 596 children safeguarded each month.

The National Crime Agency has released data stating that at least 80,000 people in the UK are believed to pose a sexual threat to children online.

In the last five years the number of child abuse images referred to the agency have surged 700% according to new statistics. During 2017-18, the National Crime Agency safeguarded 2,037 children.

The National Crime Agency also revealed on average at the end of 2017, there were 438 arrests made and 596 children safeguarded each month.

Sajid Javid the home secretary said he would make it his “personal mission” to tackle child abuse and described his shock at the scale of the problem.

The Home Office has also warned that live-streaming of abuse is a growing problem due to faster internet speeds, smartphone technology and the ease of transferring money across borders online.

It’s also reported that images are getting more graphic, with abuse of babies and children under 10 more regularly documented.

Figures also indicate that police in England and Wales recorded around 23 online child sexual offences every day in 2017-18 up from 15 a day in the previous 12 months.

Simon Bailey, the national policing lead for child protection, has called for the internet giants such as Google and Facebook to do more to stop the spread of sexual abuse images and videos.

There have been repeated calls for offenders who download indecent images of children to get tougher sentences, something most people in the UK agree with.

The government has invested £600,000 in a project that trawls the web to identify pages with suspected abuse content, a move supported by the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which assesses and removes online child abuse material.

Susie Hargreaves, chief executive of the IWF, said: “Sadly, our most recent annual report showed that the severity of the images we identified were and it appeared that offenders were becoming more sophisticated in their crime.”

Javed Khan, chief executive of children’s charity Bernardo’s, said: “We welcome Sajid Javid’s commitment to ramp up the government’s efforts to tackle online child sexual abuse.

“The government must now deliver its promise to make the UK the safest place to be online by forcing online companies to ensure effective safeguards are in place to help better protect children.

“Any delay to acting now could put a generation of children in danger online.”

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