Online grooming crimes against children in Yorkshire increase by 65 per cent in five years

MPs and Lords are expected to make the final decision on the Online Safety Bill today, September 19, to protect children on social media.

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More than 2,600 online grooming crimes have been recorded by police in Yorkshire and the Humber in the last five years.

Data from North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire police forces show 363 'sexual communication with a child' offences were recorded last year (2022/23). 

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This accounts for an increase of 65 per cent between the three forces since 2017/18 when the offence came into force. Humberside Police did not provide figures for this period.

The data from the NSPCC shows a total of 759 of these offences recorded in South Yorkshire over a five year period.

It comes ahead of MPs and Lords making the final decision on the Online Safety Bill today, September 19.

The new research shows that across the UK, more than 5,500 offences took place against primary school children, with under-12s making up a quarter of known victims. 

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The NSPCC first called for social media regulation to protect children from sexual abuse in 2017 and has been campaigning for robust legislation ever since.

The charity said the number of offences and victims is likely to be far higher than those known to police. In response, it is urging politicians on all sides to support the Bill.

The data from police forces which provided the social media platforms used to commit offences suggest Snapchat was used in 26 per cent of instances, Facebook or Messenger 15 per cent of the time, Instagram in 26 per cent, and WhatsApp in six per cent.