Lincolnshire Police recorded more than 80 child grooming offences in just one year, with the majority of cases linking to social media platforms such as Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram.
A report released on Monday, June 18 by NSPCC mapped a total of 3,171 crimes of Sexual Communication with a Child since the law was established a year ago – equal to nine grooming offences a day.
Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram was used in 70% of the 2,097 cases where police revealed the methods.
The youngest child targeted was just five years old.
The new anti-grooming law came into force on April 3, 2017.
In the first year, Lincolnshire Police recorded 84 offences with 47 crimes involving the three social media platforms.
Across England and Wales, where police disclosed the gender and age of the victim, girls aged 12-15 were recorded as being the victim in 62% of cases. And under-11s were recorded as the victim in nearly a quarter of cases.
The majority of offences – 72 (86%) – recorded by Lincolnshire Police involved victims aged 15 and under.
Data was gathered by NSPCC from 41 of 44 police forced in England and Wales.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “These numbers are far higher than we had predicted, and every single sexual message from an adult to a child can have a huge impact for years to come.
“Social networks have been self-regulated for a decade and it’s absolutely clear that children have been harmed as a result.
“I urge Digital Secretary Matt Hancock to follow through on his promise and introduce safety rules backed up in law and enforced by an independent regulator with fining powers.
“Social networks must be forced to design extra protections for children into their platforms, including algorithms to detect grooming to prevent abuse from escalating.”
The charity’s How Safe Are Our Children campaign begins on Wednesday, June 20.