Figures reveal number of child abuse image crimes recorded in Dorset

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POLICE urges parents not to allow children to be alone with devices after an increase in child abuse image crimes recorded in Dorset over the past five years.

NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) research reveals that since 2016/17 there have been 1,154 child abuse image offenses recorded by Dorset Police.

The figures, which were obtained through an access to information (FoI) request from the NSPCC, show that between 2020 and 2021, 212 child abuse image offenses were recorded in Dorset .

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In 2016/17, 185 offenses were recorded, 266 recorded in 2017/18, 265 recorded in 2018/19, 226 recorded in 2019/20 – which, together with the figures for 2020/21, gives a total of 1,154.

NSPCC Director General Sir Peter Wanless said: “The number of offenses related to child sexual abuse images is fueled by the ease with which offenders can prepare children through social media to produce and share images on an industrial scale.

“The government recognizes the problem and has created a historic opportunity with the Online Safety Bill.

“But the legislation needs to be strengthened in a clear and specific way if it is to fundamentally tackle the complex nature of online abuse and prevent children from suffering preventable harm.”

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In the southwest, a total of 6,852 child abuse image offenses were recorded by police forces over a five-year period.

Chief Detective Inspector Steve May, Dorset Police Public Protection Unit, said: ‘Dorset Police are committed to minimizing risks to children by proactively identifying those who use Internet to promote their sexual interest in children.

The Force’s Online Pedophile Investigation Team (POLIT) works closely with other police forces, the National Crime Agency and other agencies inside and outside the Kingdom. United to identify offenders using the Internet, including the darknet. We urge anyone to contact us directly or Crime Stoppers if they suspect someone is using the internet to prepare or obtain indecent pictures of children.

“The Force continued to strengthen its response capacity and resources to combat sexual offenses against children, with more officers in dedicated teams such as the sexual exploitation of children, the investigation team on child abuse and POLIT. Officers and staff receive specific training to ensure awareness and understanding of these often complex crimes, which affect some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“Nationally, online child grooming offenses have increased. This is because more and more young people are using social media, but also because the police and other agencies are increasingly effective at identifying offenders.

“Many social media platforms work with the police and we regularly receive referrals directly from social media companies to investigate. However, educating young people to use the Internet is by far the best thing we can do as a society.

“Simple measures such as allowing children to use devices online only in the presence of a parent and not allowing devices to be taken into the bathroom or bedroom would help prevent many of these offenses.

“There are guides online that can help parents and provide advice, such as checking phones and devices regularly and placing restrictions on downloaded apps on devices.”

In the United Kingdom, 107,555 infringements were recorded over the five years.

The NSPCC’s five-point plan indicates where the online security bill needs to be strengthened to:

  1. Disrupt Well-Established Grooming Journeys: The bill does not tackle how groomers abuse all platforms to produce new images of child abuse. Offenders exploit the design features of social media sites to contact multiple children before moving them to risky or encrypted live streaming sites. The bill needs to be strengthened to require platforms to explicitly assess the risk of cross-platform harm.
  2. Address how abusers use social media to organize abuse: Bill does not address how abusers use social media as a showcase to publicize their sexual interest in children, make contact with other abusers and post Digital Breadcrumbs as a guide for them to find child abuse content. Recent testimony from whistleblowers has revealed that Facebook groups are being used to facilitate child abuse and report illegal content hosted on other sites.
  3. Impose on every social media platform the obligation to have an appointed person responsible for the safety of children: To focus attention on child abuse, each platform should be required to appoint an appointed person responsible for the safety of children. prevention of child abuse, with the threat of criminal penalties for product decisions that put children at risk.
  4. Give the regulator more effective powers to tackle abuse in private messaging: Private messaging is the frontline of child abuse, but the regulator needs clearer powers to take action against businesses that don’t. no plan to deal with it. Companies should have to risk evaluating end-to-end encryption plans before moving forward so that the regulator is not left in the dark about the abuses taking place in private messaging.
  5. Give children a funded voice to advocate for their interests: Under current regulatory proposals, children who have been abused will enjoy less statutory protections than bus passengers or post users. There must be a provision for a statutory body to represent the interests of children, funded by an industry levy, in the bill.


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