The Scotsman

80,000 people in UK pose sexual threat to children, says Javid


At least 80,000 people in the UK are estimated to pose a sexual threat to children online, the Home Secretary is to reveal.

Sajid Javid will disclose the figure and describe his shock at discoverin­g the scale of the danger posed by paedophile­s on the internet.

In a speech, he will outline his “personal mission” to tackle child abuse in all its forms.

Mr Javid is expected to say: “It was when I visited the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitati­on Online Protection Command that the full horror of the scale and evolving nature of child sexual abuse was really brought home to me. One officer I met, who had previously worked in counter-terrorism for over 20 years, told me how in all his years of working he’s never been so shocked by the scale of the threat or the determinat­ion of the offenders as he is in his current job.”

In particular, Mr Javid will describe his horror at discoverin­g the National Crime Agency estimates there are up to 80,000 people in the UK who “present some kind of sexual threat” to children online.

Operationa­l experts say that is a conservati­ve estimate.

Other new statistics reveal referrals of child abuse images to the NCA have surged by 700 per cent in the last five years.

Images are getting more graphic, with abuse of babies and children under ten more regularly documented, the Home Office said.

The department also warned that live-streaming of abuse is an increasing trend due to faster internet speeds, smartphone technology and the growing ease of money transfers across borders.

Separate figures indicate that police in England and Wales recorded around 23 child sexual offences involving the internet every day in 2017-18 – up from a rate of around 15 a day in the previous 12 months.

The scale of the offending has prompted demands for internet giants to take more action to stop access to sexual abuse images and videos.

National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for child protection Simon Bailey said: “There is a growing need to pursue offenders who pose the most harm to children and are using sophistica­ted technology to evade detection.

“Technology plays a significan­t part in all online investigat­ions and there is an expectatio­n that technology companies acknowledg­e their social responsibi­lity in preventing and designing out this type of offending from their platforms. “Only by working collaborat­ively with technology companies and law enforcemen­t partners will we be able to minimise the risk posed to children online by predatory offenders.”

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