Herts, Beds and Cambs child abuse image crimes tops 1,300 in two years
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More than 1,300 child abuse image offences have been recorded by police in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire in the last two years, according to new figures obtained by the NSPCC.
The findings – which were a result of the child protection charity sending Freedom of Information requests to every police force in the UK – were released on Thursday last week and showed that an offence was recorded nationally every 23 minutes on average in 2017/18.
Hertfordshire police recorded 309 child image offences in 2016/17 and 301 in 2017/18 – a decrease of three per cent.
The neighbouring force in Bedfordshire recorded 118 offences in 2016/17 last year and 200 in 2017/18 – bringing the total number of offences to 318 in two years.
That is an increase of 66 per cent on the previous year.
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In Cambridgeshire, 209 child abuse image offences were recorded in 2016/17 and there were 164 recorded in 2017/18.
This was a decrease of 22 per cent.
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The NSPCC obtained the statistics by sending an FOI to UK police forces, asking them for the number of recorded offences for indecent images – still or moving – of children between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2018.
Responses were received from all forces which confirmed a total of 18,522 offences were recorded in 2016/17, with the figure rising by 23 per cent to 22,724 in 2017/18.
Between 2016/17 and 2017/18, 26,070 offences – that’s 63 per cent of 41,246 offences recorded nationally in the two years – related to taking, making or distributing indecent photograph or pseudo-photographs of children.
A quarter of the offences recorded related to the possession of an indecent photographs or pseudo-photographs of children, and 146 offences – 0.4 per cent of the national total – related to the possession of prohibited images of children.
The remaining 4,365 offences – 11 per cent – were either categorised as ‘other’ or there was no breakdown given by the police force.
The NSPCC has stated that higher recorded numbers of sexual abuse images offences do not necessarily reflect higher prevalence of sexual abuse images, but could be explained by better police recording, more proactive investigations and greater awareness of grooming and sexual abuse images.
The charity is running a Wild West Web campaign, calling on the government for tougher regulation to hold social networks to account and stop children from being groomed and abused online. To view the petition go to https://e-activist.com/page/28984/petition/1.