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‘Tsunami’ of child abuse fears

THE CHARITY NSPCC is warning of a ‘tsunami’ of online child abuse as grooming crimes rise in the south west by 28 per cent in four years.

New exclusive figures have revealed the extent of online grooming of children in the region recorded by police.

The figures show in 2021/22, across the UK there were 6,156 Sexual Communication with a Child offences – an increase on the previous year and almost 120 offences-a-week on average.

Analysis of Freedom of Information data from 41 UK police forces shows an 84 per cent rise nationally since 2017/18, taking the total to more than 27,000 offences since 2017.

In the south west of England, 2,282 Sexual Communication with a Child offences have been recorded by police in the past five years, with 481 in 2021/22, rising from 377 in 2017/18.

The NSPCC is warning record levels of online child sexual abuse seen during the pandemic have not subsided and may mean a long-term increase in risk.

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