Dozens of online sexual approaches to children recorded by South Yorkshire Police over nine month spell

Police saw nearly 80 cases of online sexual approaches to children in South Yorkshire over a nine month period, it has been revealed.

Monday, 30th August 2021, 2:52 pm

Statistics released by South Yorkshire Police show 76 offences of engaging in sexual communication with a child via the internet between July 1 2020 and March 31 this year.

There were a further 19 cases of offences where offenders tried to engage in sexual communication with children without the internet.

Most of the victims were girls, with the most targeted age group 12 to 15 year olds.

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The figures, released under the Freedom of Information Act, showed where gender was recorded, 63 of the victims were girls and 17 boys.

Where the victim’s age was recorded, 25 victims were aged under 11. In 53 cases, the victims were aged between 12 and 15.

The FOI response also revealed the sites and apps mentioned in the largest number of cases.

Instagram topped the list, mentioned in 10 offences over the year April 1 2020 to March 31 2019.

Both Facebook and Snapchat were next, with seven mentions each.

Two offences mentioned What’s App.

Twitter was not mentioned on any of the offences.

Last year, a man from Sheffield was jailed for four years after he was caught online by police pretending to be a 12-year-old girl.

He had struck up a sexual conversation with the decoy telling the contact she could earn money for sex and requested naked pictures of her.

He pleaded guilty to attempting to have sexual communication with a child, attempting to cause a child to engage in sexual activity and to attempting to arrange the commission of a child sex offence.

The court heard the defendant had also breached a community order with a Sexual Harm Prevention Order which had previously been imposed in June 2019, for engaging in sexual communication with a child and for battery.

The court heard he had engaged in sexual communication over the internet with someone he believed to be a 12-year-old girl but was in fact an undercover police officer..

Also in 2020, another Sheffield man was given a six month suspected jail sentence after contacting the profile of a 12-year-old boy via Grinder on his mobile phone and making references to sex, admitting attempting to have sexual communication with a child.

Local journalism holds the powerful to account and gives people a voice. Please take out a digital subscription or buy a paper. Thank you. Nancy Fielder, editor