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90 online abuse crimes against children recorded a day, NSPCC estimates

The charity reckons more than 25,300 child abuse image and sexual grooming offences have occurred since the Online Harms White Paper was published.

(Dominic Lipinski/PA)
(Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Jamie Harris, PA Science Technology Reporter

Ninety cyber crimes a day have been recorded against children since the introduction of Government plans to tackle online harms, the NSPCC estimates.

The charity predicts that more than 25,300 child abuse image and sexual grooming offences have occurred since the Online Harms White Paper was released in April 2019, plans which aim to make the UK one of the safest places to be online.

Based on police data from April to June 2019, it estimates an average of one online abuse offence against a child was recorded every 16 minutes in England and Wales in little over nine months.

By our estimates, an average of 90 potential online abuse crimes against children come to light a day, so it is crystal clear regulation cannot come soon enough Andy Burrows, NSPCC

The online harms white paper includes a wide range of proposed measures to increase web safety, particularly in protecting young and vulnerable people from illegal content, while making tech giants liable to fines or criminal prosecution if they breach their responsibilities.

“By our estimates, an average of 90 potential online abuse crimes against children come to light a day, so it is crystal clear regulation cannot come soon enough,” said Andy Burrows, NSPCC head of child safety online policy.

“The Prime Minister must confirm plans to press ahead with a comprehensive duty of care, and urgently introduce an Online Harms Bill that will deliver a well-resourced regulator with the powers to take on big tech.

“Anything less will let tech giants off the hook and have a devastating impact on tens of thousands of children, their families and law enforcement who are left to fight increasingly complex online child abuse day in and day out.”

It comes as the Online Harms Reduction Regulator Bill is set to be introduced into the House of Lords on Tuesday, a private members’ Bill that the charity hopes will speed up the introduction of legislation.

Lord McNally, who will present the Bill said: “Nothing is more important that protecting children from harm.

“The NSPCC campaign has described not just the extent of the harm but also the solution – a duty of care on technology companies to keep children safe.

“My Bill will help the government move faster in delivering a duty of care to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

“I have made it clear to ministers that I am happy for my bill to make way for urgent Government action.

“But there is not the mood in either House to accept drift and inaction on this important issue.”

A government spokesman added: “We are determined to tackle the evil of child sexual abuse, and the government has committed to legislating to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.

“We’ve set out world-leading proposals to put a duty of care on online companies, enforced by an independent regulator. We will respond to the Online Harms White Paper consultation shortly.”

PA

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