Child groom­ing rises in county

Large rise in of­fences recorded over last year

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - NEWS - By Stephen Briggs stephen.briggs@pe­ter­bor­oughto­ Twit­ter: @PTstephenB

Child groom­ing of­fences against chil­dren in Cam­bridgeshire have in­creased by more than 400 per cent in the past 12 months, it has been re­vealed.

In 2015/16 there were six child groom­ing of­fences in the county - com­pared to 26 in 2016/17.

In the East of Eng­land, 217 groom­ing of­fences were recorded in the year to June this year, up from 186 in 2015-16.

From April this year a new of­fence mak­ing it il­le­gal to send a sex­ual mes­sage to a child came into force af­ter a two-year de­lay, fol­low­ing the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law cam­paign. The recorded groom­ing of­fences also in­clude the crime of Meet­ing Af­ter Groom­ing, which for­mer Eng­landFoot­ballerA­damJohn­son was con­victed of af­ter meet­ing a 15-year-old fan, with whom he had ex­changed sex­ual mes­sages on What­sApp.

A Cam­bridgeshire po­lice spokesman said there were a number of rea­sons for the rise - in­clud­ing an in­crease in of­fend­ers us­ing so­cial me­dia to de­velop re­la­tions with chil­dren, more young­sters hav­ing ac­cess to smart­phones and tablets, as well as an in­crease in re­sources at Cam­bridgeshire po­lice to deal with the is­sue. There has also been an im­prove­ment in un­der­stand­ing how to spot signs of groom­ing, and con­fi­dence in re­port­ing crimes has also in­creased.

The spokesman said: “Pro­tect­ing chil­dren from harm, keep­ing them safe and in­ves­ti­gat­ing child abuse crimes in all forms is a pri­or­ity for Cam­bridgeshire Con­stab­u­lary. “

NSPCC chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Wan­less said: “More young peo­ple are speak­ing up about sex­ual groom­ing, and it’s vi­tal that now more than ever po­lice are given the train­ing and the re­sources to tackle this is­sue.

“Groomers need to be stopped be­fore they go to meet their vic­tim, and fol­low­ing the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law cam­paign po­lice now have the tools they need to in­ter­vene be­fore abuse es­ca­lates.

“We all have a part to play in keep­ing chil­dren safe on­line. The NSPCC’s Net Aware web­site has use­ful tools for par­ents about pop­u­lar new web­sites, how to set up pri­vacy con­trols and how to talk to chil­dren about on­line safety.”

To re­port child abuse call 101, or in an emer­gency call 999.

Young peo­ple af­fected by groom­ing can con­tact Child­line on 0800 11 11.

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