Charity Calls on UK Government to Create Bill to Protect Children Online

  • The NSPCC is calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to publicly commit to delivering an Online Harms Bill within 18 months.
  • The NSPCC says the bill should set out a ‘duty of care’ on technology firms to make their sites safer for children and is urging the government to get it through parliament as a matter of urgency.
  • Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) said: “The length of time it is taking is leading to uncertainty for us all, which stalls progress…we support calls for the Government to speed up the timetable for the introduction of the online harms legislation”.

Lancashire Police Record Increase in Online Grooming

  • Lancashire Police have recorded nearly 650 online grooming crimes under a new law that made it illegal to send sexual messages to children. 
  • In the North West of England, police forces recorded 1,738 offences of sexual communication with a child between April 2017 and October 2019, including 647 in Lancashire.
  • Figures obtained via Freedom of Information (FOI) requests show that 10,119 offences of sexual communication with a child were recorded by police in England and Wales in the two and a half years since the law came into force.

The Lockdown is Creating the Perfect storm for Child Abuse 

  • Former Home Secretary Sajid Javid MP has said the coronavirus lockdown has created a “perfect storm” for many children isolated with their abusers
  • Mr Javid is leading an inquiry into child sexual abuse in the UK with the Centre for Social Justice think tank.
  • This news comes as the NSPCC reported its helpline for adults has responded to more than 10,000 “child welfare contacts” since the start of the UK’s lockdown.

Charity Reports Increase in People Seeking Help for Sexual Thoughts About Children

  • A UK charity has warned that the number of people seeking help for sexual thoughts about children has doubled during the lockdown. 
  • The Lucy Faithfull Foundation’s hotline director Donald Findlater said  “In March, we saw between 200 and 250 visitors per week to the self-help resources. That number has grown to – and sustained – at around 600 each and every week, so a significant increase since lockdown.”
  • Campaigners warn that lockdown has created a ‘remarkable and unique’ opportunity for those wishing to exploit children. Increased isolation, stress and uncertainty could mean that more people may act on harmful impulses.

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