Online paedophiles pay as little as £1 to watch live streams of child sex abuse – ‘Time for change’ says child protection officers
The shocking report released this Thursday by the Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) also show that the UK is the THIRD biggest consumer of child pornography in the world.
Professor Alexis Jay, who chairs IICSA, said that she calls on internet companies, law enforcement and government to implement ‘vital measures’ to protect children against online abuse.
“Despite industry advances in technology to detect and combat online facilitated abuse, the risk of immeasurable harm to children and their families shows no sign of diminishing”, she said.
The shocking revelation in the report said that millions of indecent images of children were in circulation online around the world – and could be accessed from search engines in as little as three clicks.
It said officers record more than 10 grooming offences per day and arrest between 400 and 450 people per month in the UK for online child sex abuse and exploitation – with the numbers being higher during the ‘lockdown’.
Online paedophiles can also access livestreams of children being abused for as little as £1 ($1.31), mainly shown from the Phillipines where child sex abuse is rife.
The chief of the UK’s child protection unit, Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “All I see is the numbers growing, the scale of the threat growing, the number of children being abused growing and, actually, we should be having a public debate that says: what else can we do to try and meet the threat?”
Mr Bailey said younger men are emerging as a ‘new group’ of online paedophiles.
Speaking to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), he said: “What we are seeing is a new group of young men aged between 18 and 26 who have been brought up on a staple diet of going to visit Pornhub and sites like that.”
“They get to the point where there’s no pornographic material that is stimulating them so then they start to explore what child abuse imagery might look like.
“They start getting their kicks from that.”
He said Britain’s response is ‘the best in the world bar none’ but was still not enough to tackle the issue.
IICSA heard evidence over the internet’s impact on child sex abuse during hearings in January 2018 and May last year, where victims, charities, police, the government and industry representatives appeared.
It is one strand of a wider inquiry into how institutions have failed to protect children in England and Wales from sexual abuse.
The Internet Watch Foundation, which finds and removes online child sexual abuse images, said the ‘time has come for action’.
Chief executive Susie Hargreaves added: “There is no longer any reason not to be decisive on taking action against the predators who exploit and abuse children online. This report makes it abundantly clear there is no room for excuses.”
“The internet industry and the government need to step up and tackle this head on.”
The NSPCC – the UK’s national child protection agency – called the report a ‘damning indictment of Big Tech’s failure to take seriously their duty to protect young people’, referring to the child abuse being facilitated by their platforms.
A government spokesperson said: “Online child sexual exploitation and abuse is an appalling crime that the government is committed to stamping out.”
“We are working at pace on new Online Harms legislation which will ensure tech companies prioritise the safety of children online and are held to account if they fail to do so.”
“We will also soon be publishing the first of its kind national strategy to tackle all forms of child sexual abuse.”