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Government should spend more on fighting child abuse, says Christian campaigner after NSPCC figures

by Aaron James

Peter Saunders was speaking after NSPCC research found children as young as one have fallen prey to paedophiles using the internet, with crimes including more than 100 rapes involving predators operating online in the last year.

The NSPCC said 38 police forces in England and Wales had recorded 3,186 sex crimes against children in 2015/16 that involved offenders using the internet.

Offences included sexual assaults, grooming victims, and inciting children to take part in sex acts. Most victims where an age was provided by police were 13 (535), but 272 were under 10 and the youngest was one.

This is the first year that police have been required to "cyber flag" sex abuse cases where the internet was used, although the NSPCC added that "a small number" of forces said they did not know about or were not using the Home Office scheme.

Speaking on Premier Christian Radio, Christian campaigner Peter Saunders said: "[The figures] are obviously a tragedy for each of the children involved in those offences.

"We know that child abusers will use any means possible to gain access to children in order to exploit and abuse them and of course the internet has provided an excellent opportunity to do just that, which is why we've got to be so much more vigilant about how children access this amazing technology.

Responding to the fact police now have to record whenever a suspected abuser uses the internet as a tool to abuse children, Peter Saunders said: "Anything that helps in the fight against child abuse has to be used and of course by identifying the scale of the problem one would hope that the government would free up more resources to police and law enforcement generally to track down these criminals and protect our children."

Baroness Shields, Minister for Internet Safety & Security said: "Online child sexual exploitation is an appalling crime that this Government is committed to stamping out and the UK has already made significant progress in tackling.

"The National Crime Agency's (NCA) Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command leads the law enforcement response and works closely with social media companies and law enforcement agencies in the UK and overseas to identify victims and pursue offenders engaged in grooming children on the internet.

"This has enabled a near doubling of their investigative capability which will lead to more children being safeguarded, and now all UK police forces and the NCA are connected to the new Child Abuse Image Database.

"The Government has prioritised child sexual abuse as a national threat, but there is of course more to do and it is important to recognise online CSE is a global problem that requires a global response."

Listen to Premier's Aaron James speaking to Peter Saunders here:

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