Child abuse images posted online reach ‘shocking’ levels, study finds

© Paul Hackett
Authorities convict on average two people each day for child abuse image offences, a child support charity has revealed. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) demanded urgent action to halt the rise.

Analysis found there had been 1,000 court cases involving indecent images of children since Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to crack down on the issue in 2013.

The charity further revealed that a total of 4.5 million child abuse images had been found. One in three offenders was in a position of power, which allowed them to gain access to children.

Nearly two years ago, Cameron said he would put stringent measures in place to catch individuals attempting to access indecent images of children, and promised to ensure internet companies would face legal repercussions if they didn’t blacklist key search terms.

Among the offenders were doctors, teachers, police officers, scout leaders, and a magician. Only two of the convicted were women.

Some 60 percent of offenders were jailed, the NSPCC said. One convict confessed to viewing indecent photos since the age of 12. More than 25 percent were prosecuted for other crimes of a sexual nature.

Head of child safety online for the NSPCC, Claire Lilley, said: “The scale of the problem is shocking and even more so because of the number of people who hold positions of trust in our communities. This is just a fragment of the hundreds of other similar convictions during the same time.

“It is a myth that there is no harm in just looking at these images. Defenseless babies and children are being molested to feed the appetite of offenders and that demand is just not going away.

“The prime minister made a bold attempt to tackle this problem, but it is clear that, two years after he called for a crackdown, the scale of the problem is proving to be massive. We need urgent action to prevent this horrendous abuse from appearing online,” she added.

Karen Bradley, minister for preventing abuse and exploitation, said the government is clamping down on online child sex abuse.
She said Cameron’s £10 million of extra funding was being directed towards specialist teams, which work within the National Crime Agency (NCA).

“Measures also include new collaboration between the NCA and GCHQ using the latest techniques to target online offenders, making it illegal to communicate sexually with a child, and technological developments to ensure victims of online abuse can be identified more quickly and offenders are subject to speedier justice,” she said.

The government has also prioritized child sexual abuse as a national threat and is due to make live streaming of abuse images punishable in the same way as recorded images, in order to ensure perpetrators face the toughest possible sentences,” she added.