Shropshire police expecting surge in online child sex offending during Covid-19 pandemic
Police in Shropshire are expecting a surge in online child sex offending during the coronavirus crisis.
Now officers have urged parents and carers to follow advice to keep children safe online as they look to crack down on internet perverts during the Covid-19 lockdown.
Detective chief inspector Gavin Kinrade, who leads West Mercia Police's online CSE team, said: “Unfortunately, with the closure of most schools and businesses, and the significant increase of children and adults working and operating online, we expect an increase in online child sex offending during the coronavirus crisis.
“Nevertheless, child sexual abuse remains a priority for us, and our dedicated Online Child Sexual Exploitation Team will continue to relentlessly pursue offenders. Since the development of the team, officers have arrested over 400 individuals across the policing area and safeguarded 445 children.
“However, children, parents, carers and teachers can all play a part by using the resources to stay safer online and immediately report any concerns that they may have.”
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The online CSE team uses digital investigative techniques to identify where illegal images are being viewed, but in order to further decrease the risk, they are urging children, parents and carers to ensure they know how to stay safe on the web.
The National Crime Agency has launched a new #OnlineSafetyAtHome campaign, with informative and educational products available at thinkuknow.co.uk and social media channels. The activities are aimed at children of all ages, and can be incorporated into schooling by parents, carers and teachers.
Children worried about online sexual abuse can make a report to a child protection advisor through the website at ceop.police.uk/safety-centre
The website also has information about keeping yourself or a child you know safe from CSE.
Another website - fearless.org - also allows young people to anonymously report crime, including concerns about being contacted or groomed online.
There is also support available for those contemplating or engaged in such behaviour. The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, the UK-wide child protection charity, runs the Stop It Now! helpline on 0808 1000 900, which offers confidential advice to anyone who is concerned about their own or someone else’s behaviour towards children.
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