NCA warns of increased threat from child sex offenders during coronavirus pandemic
3 April, 2020
The National Crime Agency is urging young people, parents and carers to ensure they know how to stay safe online as new figures show more than 300,000 people in the UK pose a sexual threat to children.
With schools remaining closed and education moving online, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command of the National Crime Agency (NCA-CEOP) has warned that young people face an increased threat from offenders, who are also online in greater numbers.
The law enforcement body – which on average arrests 500 child sex offenders every month – said it was still working at full capacity to respond to reports and, although the number received from teachers and social workers had gone down, the number of reports from children had remained stable.
NCA investigators also found that it is possible to access child sexual abuse content on the open web in just three clicks.
“Child sexual abuse remains a priority threat for the agency at this difficult time. Though we are working around the virus like everyone else, we are continuing to pursue high-risk online offenders to ensure they are arrested and children are safeguarded,” said Rob Jones, NCA’s director of threat leadership.
“Preventing offences occurring is always crucial and now more so than ever when there is masses of online traffic and a possible elevated threat to children.”
Now that most families are spending more time together, NCA-CEOP has urged children, parents and carers to ensure they know how to be safer online and said it would release a host of educational resources for families accessible through its Thinkuknow website and social media channels.
“It is sickening to think that some criminals are looking to exploit the Coronavirus crisis to cause harm online,” said Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ Council’s (NPCC) lead for child protection.
“Despite the issues that the pandemic will cause for law enforcement, child protection is still a priority and we remain totally committed to keeping our young people safe.”
Parent Info – which is run by Parent Zone in cooperation with NCA-CEOP – offers information on reporting online child sexual abuse, plus advice to help families cope with the disruptions caused by COVID-19.