Sexual grooming crimes more than double in Dorset

Sexual grooming crimes more than double in Dorset

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:27am 11th September 2019.

Record numbers of children are being targeted on apps like Instagram across the county.

Figures obtained by the NSPCC show that 84  offences were recorded by police in Dorset last year, compared with 37 in the previous year.

In the last two years in Dorset Facebook owned apps which include Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat were used in 70% of the instances.

Instagram was used in almost half of them. 

Computer keyboard hand

'Legislation to protect children online'

The offence came into force on April 3, 2017, following an NSPCC campaign.

The charity is now calling for legislation to protect children online to be prioritised.

The Government has indicated it will publish a draft Online Harms Bill early next year, following a campaign by the NSPCC. The proposals would introduce independent regulation of social networks, with tough sanctions if they fail to keep children safe on their platforms.  

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said:

"Despite the huge amount of pressure that social networks have come under to put basic protections in place, children are being groomed and abused on their platforms every single day."

These figures are yet more evidence that social networks simply won't act unless they are forced to by law. The Government needs to stand firm and bring in regulation without delay." 

The charity wants to see tough sanctions for tech firms that fail to protect their young users - including steep fines for companies, boardroom bans for directors, and a new criminal offence for platforms that commit gross breaches of the duty of care.

Child Eye

'Freya's story'

Freya (which is not her real name) was 12 when, while she was staying at a friend’s house, a stranger bombarded her Instagram account with sexual messages and videos. 

Her mum Pippa (who's name we have also changed) told the NSPCC:

“She was quiet and seemed on edge when she came home the next day. I noticed her shaking and knew there was something wrong so encouraged her to tell me what the problem was. 

“When she showed me the messages, I just felt sick. It was such a violation and he was so persistent. He knew she was 12, but he kept bombarding her with texts and explicit videos and images. Freya* didn’t even understand what she was looking at. There were pages and pages of messages, he just didn’t give up.

“Our children should be safe in their bedrooms, but they’re not. They should be safe from messages from strangers if their accounts are on private, but they’re not.”