Self-referrals to stop looking at sexual child abuse images are soaring
More than eight people a week have sought help
MORE than eight people a week sought help to stop searching for images of child abuse in Leicestershire last year - and the number is soaring.
Figures from The Lucy Faithfull Foundation - a child protection charity - reveal that some 420 people in our area sought help for the crime last year.
That is a rise of nearly a quarter (23%) from 341 people in 2016.
Stop it Now! - a campaign and helpline set up by the charity in 2002 - aims to prevent child sexual abuse by encouraging abus- ers and potential abusers to seek help through online resources and helplines.
Of the 420 people who contacted Stop it Now! in our area last year, some 374 did so via the website, while 46 telephoned.
The rising trend in Leicestershire reflects the story across the rest of the UK.
Nationally, some 36,443 people contacted Stop it Now! in 2017 - a 40% rise from the 26,089 people who did so the previous year.
Of the 36,443 people in 2017, the majority contacted the campaign through the website (34,193), while 2,251 rang up.
The rise in numbers can be partly explained by a video campaign launched by Stop it Now! in 2015, which sought to tackle the online viewing of sexual images of children by encouraging more people to seek help.
Since the launch of the campaign, more than 69,000 people within the UK have visited the Stop it Now Get Help website.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs’ council lead for child protection, said: “Police forces are arresting more offenders who view or share sexual images of children online and protecting more children than ever before.
“However, child sexual abuse cannot be countered by enforce- ment alone.
“It requires schools and parents to educate children to ensure they stay safe, as well as for technology and social media companies to take their responsibilities seriously in protecting young people online.
“Alongside the important role for education in raising awareness and a greater role for technology companies in child protection, it is also crucial that offenders who are yet to be arrested are given the opportunity to seek help.”
Tom Squire, clinical manager at The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said: “Stop it Now! is determined to protect children from abuse and the devastating impact of having their image repeatedly shared across the internet.
“The best way to do this is to deter people from looking at these images in the first place, and to get those who are looking to stop.
“We work with many men arrested after downloading huge numbers of abusive images of children. Nearly all of them say they wish they had known sooner about the help that’s available to stop.”
Stop it Now! can be reached at www.get-help.stopitnow.org.uk, or via a confidential helpline on 0808 1000 900.