Paedophilia is now so rife online that predators are using the web to commit 22 child sex abuse crimes a day, new police figures show.
More than 8,200 child sex abuse crimes recorded in Britain last year were linked to the internet, laying bare the sheer scale of the problem.
The number has more than doubled since police started recording cyber-related sex crimes four years ago.
Paedophilia is now so rife online that predators are using the web to commit 22 child sex abuse crimes a day, new police figures show. More than 8,200 child sex abuse crimes recorded in Britain last year were linked to the internet, laying bare the sheer scale of the problem
In many cases the abusers targeted children under ten, including babies.
Last night NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless claimed the shocking figures were just ‘the tip of the iceberg’.
He renewed calls for the Government to appoint an independent regulator to force the web giants to take action.
‘Behind each offence is a child suffering at the hands of sex offenders and, worryingly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg,’ he said.
‘Far too many children are drowning in a sea of online threats so it’s now time for the next Prime Minister, whoever he may be, to cast out the life jacket.
‘He must hold his nerve and introduce an independent regulator to protect children from the risks of abuse and harmful content.’
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will today pledge to crack down on the growing crisis with a new ‘national strategy’.
He will call on the Government and the police to take a more ‘integrated approach’ and look at overlaps between the abuse that happens on the web and offline.
Speaking at an NSPCC child safety conference in London, he will say: ‘I have been resolute in my mission to protect our kids, but I remain determined to do even more…
‘The Government must build on our existing work to stop all forms of child sexual abuse and support all victims and survivors… later this year we will publish a national strategy covering our comprehensive response to all forms of child sexual abuse.’
The children’s charity obtained the figures from 40 police forces across England, Wales and Northern Ireland using the Freedom of Information Act.
It excluded Scotland, where police do not use the ‘cyber-flag’ system to mark crimes that are linked to the web.
Home Secretary Sajid Javid will today pledge to crack down on the growing crisis with a new ‘national strategy’
The vast majority of the abuse victims are teenagers or children aged between 10 and 13, the NSPCC found.
But 185 of the offences recorded by police involved children aged ten and under, including infants under one year old.
In some cases, children are contacted over the web by paedophiles who ask to meet them in real life.
In others, the vile predators manipulate their victims into performing sex acts in front of a smartphone or webcam while they are alone.
The youngsters are often tricked into believing that they are talking to someone else their own age.
Numerous children have contacted the NSPCC because they are terrified of other people finding out about the images they been tricked into sharing.
One 14-year-old boy told how a woman in her 20s video-called him and ‘made me do sexual things’.
She then played the video back to him and threatened to report him if he did not continue talking to her.
‘I feel so ashamed about what has happened and I’m too scared to tell anyone. I’ve blocked them but I feel so violated and scared… I am struggling to cope with everything,’ he said.
Meanwhile, a 13-year-old girl detailed how a ‘guy’ she met on Instagram persuaded her to send him sexual photographs of herself – and then used them to pressure her into sending more.
‘He has threatened he would share those pictures to my friends… I’ve blocked him but he keeps contacting me over the phone. I found out that he is actually an adult. I don’t know what to do and I’m too scared to tell my mum,’ she said.
Paedophiles who record their victims, or take photographs, can then share them around the web at will.
The Home Secretary will today reveal a sharp jump in the number of paedophiles calling the Lucy Faithfull Foundation in order to seek help to stop their behaviour.
The number of calls to its helpline has jumped 25 percent in the first three months or the year, while the number of people accessing its website rose by 40 per cent.
Two in five of the people who contacted the charity did so before they committed an offence rather than after.
Last year, Britain’s child sex abuse watchdog – the Internet Watch Foundation – removed more than a million vile images from 105,000 different pages online.
Four out of ten of the web pages showed victims aged 10 and under, including some who were not yet two.
They tended to be involved in the most severe forms of abuse – ‘category A’ images, showing rape and sexual torture.
However, there has also been an explosion in the number of children aged 11 to 13 targeted by paedophiles who trick their victims into filming themselves at home.
More than half of the vile posts removed by the IWF showed youngsters in this age group, who are often emotionally vulnerable