NSPCC demands new Online Safety Bill to protect children from predators - The Rugby Observer

NSPCC demands new Online Safety Bill to protect children from predators

MORE THAN 1,600 online grooming crimes have been recorded by police across the West Midlands over the last six years during the wait for updated safety laws.

The NSPCC revealed 1,654 sexual communication with a child offences were recorded by West Midlands, Warwickshire, West Mercia and Staffordshire police forces since 2017/18, when the offence became law.

The charity say across the UK more than 34,000 offences were recorded by police over the same period.

The NSPCC has been campaigning since 2017 for a new Online Safety Bill, which looks to protect children using social media,

This news comes ahead of MPs and Lords making final decisions on the bill next month.

The NSPCC say the number of offences and victims is likely to be far higher than those known to police.

According to the children’s charity 150 apps and sites have been used to groom children.

It added snapchat was used in 26 per cent of total cases over the six years, while Meta-owned – like Facebook and Instagram were used in almost half.

Sophia – whose name has been changed – was 15 she was groomed by a man posing as a boy who she was chatting to on social media.

Now aged 19, she said: “He had started asking for selfies of me, then asking me to take my clothes off and send photos.

“When he threatened me and started being angry, I was petrified.

“He threatened to share the images of me with friends and family he’d found through my social media if I stopped replying.”

The charity is calling on residents to contact MPs urging them to do their bit and get the bill passed after years of delays and amendments.

NSPCC chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: “The number of offences must serve as a reminder of why the Online Safety Bill is so important and why the ground-breaking protections it will give children are desperately needed.

“We’re pleased the Government has listened and strengthened the legislation so companies must tackle how their sites contribute to child sexual abuse in a tough but proportionate way, including in private messaging.”


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