THE NUMBER of offences involving indecent images of children reported to West Midlands Police has nearly doubled in three years, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.
The total number of offences reported to all 45 police forces across the UK has almost tripled over the last three years, rising from 4,530 in 2013 to 10,818 in 2015.
In the West Midlands it rose from 177 in 2013 to 343 in 2015.
A total of 2,031 children were among those reported to police across the UK for indecent images offences over the last three years.
The rise has led the NSPCC to call for police to be given greater resources to tackle the growing threat, highlighting the responsibility of the UK’s digital industry in tackling the issue.
And the NSPCC is urging parents to talk to children about the risks of sharing nude selfies on mobile phones and social media as this may be partly fuelling the rise in offences by under-18s.
An NSPCC survey recently revealed only half of parents knew that children taking nude selfies were committing a crime.
However, among those children reported to the police may also be young people who have been found in possession of child abuse images.
And the big rise in adults caught with indecent images of children shows the demand for this sickening material is still growing.
Behind all these images is a child who has suffered appalling harm and may still be in danger today.
And a significant proportion of those who view child abuse images have an increased risk of acting out their desire to sexually abuse children.
Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC, said: “Over the last two decades, digital technology has fuelled an explosion in the production and consumption of child sexual abuse images that increasingly involves the streaming of live video.
“Committed leadership from Government, and dedicated police operations have made a real difference.
“But the war on child abuse images is only just beginning.
“The internet industry must prioritise this issue by committing their expertise and work with the public and voluntary sector to find solutions.”
“As well as pursuing and deterring adults who make and distribute these we must educate children about how to keep themselves safe online and offline and how to get help as soon as grooming or abuse happens.
“And every child who is the victim of exploitation and abuse should get the support they need to rebuild their lives.”
The NSPCC has teamed up with O2 to help parents keep their children safe from grooming and other risks.
Anyone needing advice on issues such as parental controls, privacy settings can get advice from the O2 and NSPCC online safety helpline on 0808 8005002.