Cyber child sex crimes rise by 77% in Lincolnshire

Lincolnshire Police recorded a 77% rise in the number of cyber-related sexual crimes against children in the last four years.

The figures, gathered by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC), represent an average of 22 crimes a day in 2018/19 in the UK.

Last year, a record 8,224 ‘cyber-flag’ child sex offences were logged by police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with an online element. This is double the number recorded four years ago.

In Lincolnshire, recorded cyber-related child sex crimes rose from 112 in 2015/16 to 199 in 2018/19.

Lincolnshire Police was one of 40 forces (out of 44) which responded to a Freedom of Information Request by the NSPCC.

Data covered crimes against people under 18 including online grooming, sexual communication with a child and rape.

The charity is now calling on the next Prime Minster to prioritise online safety and bring in new laws that deliver more protection against abuse.

The NSPCC fears that the figures may not reveal the true extent of the problem due to potential under-recording of the role of online in these crimes and wide logging variation across forces.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: “Behind each offence is a child suffering at the hands of sex offenders and, worryingly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg.

“Far too many children are drowning in a sea of online threats so it’s now time for the next Prime Minister, whoever he may be, to cast out the life jacket.

“He must hold his nerve and introduce an independent regulator to protect children from the risks of abuse and harmful content.”

A Lincolnshire Police spokesperson said: “Lincolnshire Police has seen a rise in cyber-enabled crimes against children which has risen by 42% over the last three years, ending April 2019.

“Part of this is a better understanding of this crime type, how these are offences are committed and a rise in reporting to ourselves as a result of awareness campaigns that have been carried out over recent years.

“We continue to work with young persons, their families and our partners agencies in addressing cyber-enable crime towards children, providing on-line stay safe advice in addition to our continued mini-police project working in schools to help keep young person’s safe on-line.

“We remain committed to protecting the vulnerable whilst at the same time pursuing those responsible for offending and we encourage those who feel either they, or a family member are a victim of crime to contact us on 101 immediately.”