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Over 200 online child abuse crimes in Wales every month Online Safety Bill delayed, NSPCC warns

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Job : Thu 28 Jul 2022

Updated: Thu 28 Jul

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More than 200 online sex crimes will take place against children every month in Wales if the Online Safety Bill is delayed, research by the NSPCC has found.

The charity’s analysis of new crime data from the Home Office has revealed a tenfold increase in online child sexual abuse offenses recorded by police in England and Wales in the UK. course of the last decade.

Data shows that 42,503 crimes of obscene posting (image of child abuse) and sexual grooming were recorded in the year to March, up from 3,706 just a decade ago.

In 2021/22, police forces in Wales recorded 2,468 such offenses, the equivalent of 206 per month.

The NSPCC said the massive growth in crime and scale of child abuse should serve as a wake-up call for the next Prime Minister to make the Online Safety Bill a national priority.

They said it underscored the urgent need for Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak to commit to passing the legislation in full and without delay.

The charity warned that the disturbing reality of the delay is that more and more children are being cared for on their smartphones and tablets, contacted by offenders during the summer holidays and coerced into acts of sexual abuse in line in their room.

The historic Online Safety Bill was due to pass the House of Commons last week but has been postponed until at least the autumn when a new prime minister is in place.

The NSPCC first won the pledge to regulate social media four years ago in a bid to tackle Silicon Valley’s inaction on child abuse on their platforms.

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

The charity fears the delay could see the bill watered down despite years of failed self-regulation by tech companies that put children at greater risk.

NSPCC Chief Executive Sir Peter Wanless said: “With every second the clock ticks on the Online Safety Bill, ever-growing numbers of children and families are faced with the unimaginable trauma of preventable child abuse.

“The need for legislation to protect children is clear, commands overwhelming support from MPs and the public and builds on the UK’s position as a global leader in tackling harm online. Strong regulation can be put in place while protecting freedom of expression and privacy.

“There can be no more important mission for the Government than to protect children from abuse and the next Prime Minister must deliver on the promise made to families in the Election Manifesto and introduce the Online Safety Bill as a as a national priority.

Susie Hargreaves OBE, Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation, said: “These alarming figures represent thousands of images of real children, who have been abused and raped and whose lives have been irrevocably altered.

“We need to protect children by blocking and removing these images from the internet as much as possible. However, data from the IWF also shows that 15 times more child sexual exploitation material was found online by our analysts in 2021 than 10 years ago.

“The predominant type of imagery is ‘self-generated’, where children are tricked or extorted into abusing themselves on camera. Of the 250,000 web addresses mined by the IWF last year, more than 7 out of 10 reports included this type of content. These images are then widely distributed on a number of platforms.

“Given that the Internet provides easy access to people’s homes, where someone can record children who are often alone in their rooms via a telephone or computer camera, it is urgent that the bill on Online security remains high on the government’s agenda.”

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