Shropshire Star

Child abuse images surge by almost 150 per cent in five years, NSPCC figures show

Child abuse image offences across the county have surged by almost 150 per cent in five years, an investigation by a child protection charity has shown.


Police forces from Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Shropshire have recorded 3,206 crimes – up from 1,304 recorded in 2016/2017.

It has been revealed by the NSPCC which warned child abuse image offences have hit their highest figure on record nationally, with 30,925 being recorded.

Sir Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “These new figures are incredibly alarming but reflect just the tip of the iceberg of what children are experiencing online.

“We hear from young people who feel powerless and let down as online sexual abuse risks becoming normalised for a generation of children.

“By creating a child safety advocate that stands up for children and families the Government can ensure the Online Safety Bill systemically prevents abuse.

“It would be inexcusable if in five years’ time we are still playing catch-up to pervasive abuse that has been allowed to proliferate on social media.”

The charity has warned unregulated social media is fuelling the scale of the offence and tech bosses are failing to stop their sites from being used by offenders.

It comes as the new research shows Snapchat is the social media site offenders most used to share child abuse images. The app, popular with teens, was used in 43 per cent of instances where platform data was provided by police.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, which are all owned by Meta, were used in a third of instances where a site was flagged. And for the first-time virtual reality environments and Oculus headsets, used to explore the Metaverse, were found to be involved in recorded child sexual abuse image crimes.

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