New figures released today (Tuesday, 25) reveal a large rise in reports of cyber-related child sexual abuse, including in Sussex.
According to figures obtained by the NSPCC from Sussex Police, reports have increased by more than 50 percent year-on-year – to 58 reports in 2018/19.
Nationally, police recorded 22 offences a day over the last year, a figure that has doubled since 2015.
Sussex’s Police and Crime Commissioner claimed investments are being made to support victims. Katy Bourne said she believes part of the increase is due to young people, who have been subject to cyber-related sexual exploitation, feeling more confident to report offences.
The Police and Crime Commissioner added:
“There have been improvements in our recording procedures to help produce a more accurate picture. However, the pace of reporting Internet-enabled offences of all kinds is increasing and we expect this trend will be found in other forces, too.
“This continued increase in reporting, albeit from a low level, is giving us a better indication of the underlying issues. We also believe this reflects, at least in part, the increasing confidence of victims in coming forward, knowing that reports are taken seriously and that we will work with partners to try to achieve justice wherever possible.”
According to the Police and Crime Commissioner, her office has also funded the post of a child sexual abuse analyst, using intelligence to identify emerging challenges along with immediate risks.
The PCC also commented:
“As the digital lead for PCCs nationally, I am committed to modernising policing and digitally equipping our forces so they can combat online child abuse and any other cyber-related crime.”
Regarding support for victims in Sussex, Katy Bourne said:
“In this financial year, I have awarded over £200,000 of funding from my victims’ budget to services across Sussex that help victims and their families to cope, and recover, and give evidence in court.
“I have also supported local projects that have designed educational tools for young people on digital dangers, and spotting the early signs of exploitation.”
The NSPCC has called for the next Prime Minister to prioritise online safety and introduce laws to protect children.