Child abuse image offences rise across West Midlands - The Solihull Observer

Child abuse image offences rise across West Midlands

Solihull Editorial 24th Feb, 2023   0

POLICE have recorded a surge in child abuse image offenses in the West Midlands, with more than 3,206 crimes in 2021/22, according to the NSPCC.

That is an increase of 146% on figures from five years ago from figures given to the charity by Staffordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and West Mercia Police forces.

Nationally, child abuse image offences recorded by police forces across the UK have jumped by two thirds in five years, with more than 30,000 crimes involving the sharing and possession of indecent images of children recorded last year, according to freedom of information data obtained by the children’s charity.

The NSPCC warns that unregulated social media is fuelling the unprecedented scale of online child sexual abuse and behind every offence could be multiple child victims who are continually revictimized as images are shared.

The charity is calling on Government to give children, including victims of sexual abuse, a powerful voice and expert representation in future regulation by creating a statutory child safety advocate through the Online Safety Bill.

It comes as the new research shows Snapchat is the social media site offenders most used to share child abuse images.

The NSPCC say the app, popular with teens, was used in 43 per cent of instances where platform data was provided by police.

Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, which are all owned by Meta, were used in a third of instances where a site was flagged.

Roxy Longworth was 13 when she was contacted by a boy four years older than her on Facebook who coerced her into sending images via Snapchat.

He sent the pictures to his friends which resulted in Roxy being blackmailed and manipulated into sending more images to another older boy who shared them via social media.

Roxy said: “I sat on the floor and cried. I’d lost all control and there was no one to talk to about it. I blocked him on everything and prayed he wouldn’t show anyone the pictures because of how young I was.

“After that, I was just waiting to see what would happen. Eventually someone in my year sent me some of the pictures and that’s when I knew they were out.”

Sir Peter Wanless, Chief Executive of the NSPCC, said: “These new figures are incredibly alarming but reflect just the tip of the iceberg of what children are experiencing online.

“We hear from young people who feel powerless and let down as online sexual abuse risks becoming normalised for a generation of children.

“By creating a child safety advocate that stands up for children and families the Government can ensure the Online Safety Bill systemically prevents abuse.

“It would be inexcusable if in five years’ time we are still playing catch-up to pervasive abuse that has been allowed to proliferate on social media.”


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