More than 150 grooming offences have been recorded by police in Sussex in the last two years, according to figures released by the NSPCC today (Wednesday, 11).
The charity said more than 7,500 crimes have been recorded across England and Wales in the two years since the offence came into law.
One in five offences were against children aged 11 or under, and a record number of children were targeted on Instagram, according to the NSPCC.
In Sussex, there were 153 offences of sexual communication with a child recorded from April 2017 to April 2019.
NSPCC chief executive, Peter Wanless said:
“It’s now clearer than ever that Government has no time to lose in getting tough on these tech firms.
“Despite the huge amount of pressure that social networks have come under to put basic protections in place, children are being groomed and abused on their platforms every single day.
“These figures are yet more evidence that social networks simply won’t act unless they are forced to by law. The Government needs to stand firm and bring in regulation without delay.”
A Sussex Police spokesperson said improvements to the force’s recording procedures are helping to produce a ‘more accurate picture’.
“However the pace of reporting Internet-enabled offences of all kinds is increasing, and we expect that 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, and which we also believe reflects at least in part an increasing confidence in victims about coming forward, knowing that reports are taken seriously and that we will work with partners to try to achieve justice wherever possible.
“The investigation of all serious sexual offences is now carried out by our specialist Safeguarding Investigation Units (SIUs), and Complex Abuse Unit, helping us further develop our co-ordinated response to all sexual offences including the often related issues of child protection and domestic abuse.
“Officers and staff at all levels also receive training in the investigation of on-line abuse.
“The PCC has also funded the post of a child sexual abuse (CSE) analyst, whose intelligence-led role is helping to identify the immediate risks and emerging challenges around, and has been cited as best practice by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC).”