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Online grooming cases soar in East of England

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The NSPCC is warning of a "tsunami" of online grooming of children unless action is taken.

It comes as figures obtained by the charity show that cases recorded by police in the last four years have doubled in the East of England and risen by 80 per cent nationally.

In seven eastern counties, including Norfolk, there were 671 offences in 2021/22, up from 336 in 2017/18.

The NSPCC is warning of a possible tsunami of online grooming offences against children (54593400)
The NSPCC is warning of a possible tsunami of online grooming offences against children (54593400)

Parents and children are being warned that, where the platform was known, 70 per cent of such crimes across the UK were committed on Snapchat, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Snapchat was used by groomers in 33 per cent of offences where a site was recorded.

The NSPCC said the sheer scale of offending shows the vital importance of ensuring the Online Safety Bill effectively tackles child sexual abuse and has practical suggestions for how this is best done.

Chief executive Sir Peter Wanless said: "Online grooming is taking place at unprecedented levels and only concerted action will turn the tide on this tsunami of preventable abuse.

“The crucial Online Safety Bill is the opportunity to deliver the legislative change we urgently need to address head on these preventable crimes against children

“We strongly welcome the Government’s ambition to deliver world-leading legislation.

"But as it seems increasingly clear that the pandemic has resulted in a long-term increase in the abuse threat, the current proposals must go further now to tackle online sexual violence and prevent avoidable abuse.”

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