Lincolnshire

Sexual predators commit 170 online offences against children in Lincolnshire since 2015

Shock new figures have revealed that 170 online child sexual offences have occurred in Lincolnshire over the last two years, with a leading charity calling for online safety to be a top priority for the next government.

Figures for Lincolnshire Police showed there were 58 cyber-related child sex offences in 2016/17.

There were 112 offences for the previous 12 months.

The number of child sex crimes nationally has risen 44% from 2015-16 as 39 police forces responded to the NSPCC’s Freedom of Information request announcing 3,903 cyber-related attacks.

This is now the second year police have required to record ‘cyber flag’, which is any crime that involves the internet.

The statistics show that police in Wales and England have recorded an average of 15 cyber offences a day, with 13-year-olds being the most common victims.

The NSPCC is urging the next government to bring in an independent regulator to hold social media companies to account and fine them if they fail to protect children.

They furthermore demand the government draw up minimum standards that internet companies must adhere to protect children and safer social media accounts should be made available to children.

NSPCC CEO Peter Wanless said: “These figures confirm our fears that offenders are exploiting the internet to target children for their own dark deeds.

“Children are also telling the NSPCC’s Childline service that they are being targeted online by some adults who pose as children and try to meet them, or persuade them to perform sexual acts on webcams, before blackmailing them.

“This terrifies them and can leave some feeling worthless, depressed, and suicidal.

“We cannot idly sit by knowing that more and more innocent young people are being harmed online.

“Today’s worrying data leaves the next government with no choice but to urgently address this issue.

“We are calling on them to force internet companies and social media sites to adhere to rules that keep their young users safe.”