Cyber-related child sex crimes on the increase in Bedfordshire

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New figures released by the NSPCC have revealed that cyber sex crimes have risen from 14 to 49 in Bedfordshire.

The charity has ‘demanded’ that the government introduce strict online safety measures to protect children.

The organisation also claims the internet plays a key role in ‘contact’ offences including rape, sexual assault, and grooming

The internet was used to commit 49 child sexual offences in Bedfordshire last year.

This number has risen sharply from 2015/16 when Bedfordshire Police, who responded to a same Freedom of Information request, recorded 14 cyber-related sexual offences.

In England and Wales over 5,600 child sex crimes committed against children had an online element that included rape, grooming, and sexual assault.

The troubling figures are revealed today as the NSPCC calls on the next government to make child online safety a top priority.

It is demanding an independent regulator to hold social media companies to account and fine them where they fail to protect children.

The NSPCC is also urging police forces to ensure all officers understand how people use the web to prey on children, how to investigate such crimes, and effectively safeguard victims.

Peter Wanless, CEO of the NSPCC said: “These figures confirm our fears that offenders are exploiting the internet to target children for their own dark deeds.

“Children also tell our Childline service that they are being targeted online by some adults who pose as children and try to meet them, or persuade them to perform sexual acts on webcams, before blackmailing them.

“This terrifies them and can leave some feeling worthless, depressed, and suicidal.

“We cannot idly sit by knowing that more and more innocent young people are being harmed online.”

Police have issue have not issused a comment at this time.