Po­lice get new pow­ers to ar­rest on­line groomers

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Helping Others -

Po­lice have recorded a 69% rise in abusers in Kent meet­ing chil­dren af­ter groom­ing them on­line in the last five years.

The fig­ures came as of­fi­cers on Mon­day were given new pow­ers to stop those who prey on chil­dren for sex­ual grat­i­fi­ca­tion.

A law was cre­ated in 2015 mak­ing it il­le­gal to send sex­ual mes­sages to chil­dren, fol­low­ing the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law cam­paign.

But the govern­ment failed to bring it into force in Eng­land and Wales, pre­vent­ing po­lice from ar­rest­ing groomers un­til they met their vic­tim or sex­u­ally abused them.

Po­lice recorded 22 of­fences of meet­ing a child fol­low­ing sex­ual groom­ing in Kent in 2015-2016.

This was up from 13 in 201112, ac­cord­ing to Home Of­fice fig­ures.

From Mon­day, on­line groom­ing is a crime in Eng­land and Wales, mean­ing po­lice will be able to ar­rest any­one who sends a sex­ual mes­sage to a child and in­ter­vene be­fore phys­i­cal abuse takes place.

Sim­i­lar leg­is­la­tion is al­ready in place in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land.

Since 2010 more than 1,500 of­fences of groom­ing have been recorded by po­lice in Scot­land alone. The NSPCC had lob­bied the govern­ment for three years to bring in the anti-groom­ing law.

The char­ity’s chief ex­ec­u­tive, Peter Wan­less, said: “The Jus­tice Sec­re­tary has done the right thing. This is a vic­tory for the 50,000 peo­ple who sup­ported the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law cam­paign. It is a vic­tory for com­mon sense.

“Chil­dren should be as safe on­line as they are off­line, wher- ever they are in the UK. This law will give po­lice in Eng­land and Wales the pow­ers they need to pro­tect chil­dren from on­line groom­ing and to in­ter­vene sooner to stop abuse be­fore it starts.”

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