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NSPCC warns of ‘sharp spike’ in online grooming offences

The NSPCC is continuing its #WildWestWeb campaign calling for statutory regulation of social networks as it reveals that there has been a 50% increase in online grooming offences.

There has been a sharp spike in online grooming offencesThe national children’s charity has obtained new data after making a Freedom of Information request to every police force in England and Wales. It reveals that there has been a 50% increase in offences recorded in the last 6 months, when compared with the same period last year.

The figures also show that a total of 5,161 offences of sexual communication with a child were recorded by police in just 18 months.

Instagram is increasingly being used to target and abuse childrenIn addition, the data showed that there had been a massive 200% rise in recorded instances of the popular social network Instagram being used to target and abuse children over the same period of time.

It comes not long after data released by the Office for National Statistics showed that police had recorded more than 9,000 child sexual offences with an online element in the year from October 2017 to September 2018.

With the government due to publish their Online Harms Whitepaper, the NSPCC continues to urge ministers to introduce statutory regulation to enforce a legal duty of care to children on social networks. They want an independent regulator with the power to launch investigations and impose hefty fines on social networks that are failing to protect children.

The NSPCC is calling for tougher regulation to tackle online groomingThe #WildWestWeb campaign also calls for detailed reporting on how social networks are working to keep children safe and the introduction of ‘safe accounts’ for children.

The Chief Executive of the NSPCC, Peter Wanless, said that the new figures from police forces represented “overwhelming evidence that keeping children safe cannot be left to social networks.”

He added: “We cannot wait for the next tragedy before tech companies are made to act. It is hugely concerning to see the sharp spike in grooming offences on Instagram, and it is vital that the platform designs basic protection more carefully into the service it offers young people.

“After 10 years of failed self-regulation by social networks, it is crucial that the Government’s imminent Online Harms Whitepaper includes new laws that tackle online grooming once and for all.”

Social networks say they are working hard to protect children and tackle online groomingAll social media platforms say that they take child safety very seriously and are working hard to target both abuse and damaging content on their sites.

First Response Training (FRT) is a leading national training provider. They deliver a wide range of high quality training courses to over 75,000 learners annually, working with thousands of organisations and businesses across all sectors.

Their diverse portfolio includes training in the fields of health and safety, first aid, fire safety, food hygiene, health and social care, early years and schools and other special focus topics.

They work with thousands of schools, colleges and universities as well as pre-schools, nurseries, childcare providers and children’s centres to provide specialist training for those who work with children and young people.

Courses available include Safeguarding ChildrenHealth and Safety and Risk Assessment among other topics.

A trainer from FRT, says: “For a long time now, safeguarding children has been about much more than protecting them in the physical world – their digital lives need safeguarding too. We need laws that ensure this.

Children and young people need to be protected online“Everyone who is involved in looking after, supporting and educating children needs to be aware of this as they can play a role in helping to protect their safety online.

“We hope that steps are taken to offer young people greater protection when they are using social media platforms or other websites, and that more children are protected from abuse.”

For more information on the training services that FRT can provide, please call them today on freephone 0800 310 2300, or send an e-mail to info@firstresponsetraining.com.

You can find out more about the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign and sign their petition online.

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