More children in Dorset targeted online by sex offenders

More children in Dorset targeted online by sex offenders

Published by Maria Greenwood at 9:36am 25th June 2019. (Updated at 10:22am 25th June 2019)

NSPCC calling on new PM to act.

Children in Dorset are being increasingly targeted online by sex offenders.

New figures obtained via a Freedom of Information request by the NSPCC have revealed that the number of sexual offences against children under 18 with a 'cyber flag' have more than doubled in the last three years.

In 2018/19, Dorset Police dealt with 82 sexual offences against children that had an online element.

That figure is up from 28 offences in 2015/16.

child online

The children's charity is now calling on the next Prime Minister to stand firm against industry lobbying by prioritising online safety and bringing in laws that deliver a change in protection against abuse.

Last year, a record 8,224 child sexual offences logged by police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had an online element.

While in the South West of England there has been a significant increase in the number of recorded sexual offences against children that have a cyber flag attached.

The number has risen from 187 across the region's five police forces in 2015/16 to 334 in 2018/19.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: "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.

"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."