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Call for prime minister to press ahead with legislation as nearly 140 online child grooming offences recorded in Surrey

3 minute read
Call for prime minister to press ahead with legislation as nearly 140 online child grooming offences recorded in Surrey

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 9:16am 29th May 2020. (Updated at 9:29am 29th May 2020)

 The NSPCC is urging Boris Johnson to get moving on putting in place social media regulation as online child grooming offences pass 10,000 in England and Wales. 

The crimes have been recorded by police under a new law that made it illegal to send sexual messages to children.

Since the legislation was introduced two and a half years ago, 138 of these offences were recorded in Surrey.

56% of these involved Facebook-owned apps (Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp). 

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The charity is now calling on the Prime Minister to press ahead urgently with legislation that would help prevent offenders from using social media to target children for sexual abuse. 

They want Boris Johnson to deliver an Online Harms Bill within 18 months. 

This would mean social media sites would have a duty of care to make their sites safer for children. 

NSPCC Chief Executive Peter Wanless spoke to Boris Johnson last week and said coronavirus had created a perfect storm for abusers: 

“Child abuse is an inconvenient truth for tech bosses who have failed to make their sites safe and enabled offenders to use them as a playground in which to groom our kids.

“Last week the Prime Minister signalled to me his determination to stand up to Silicon Valley and make the UK the world leader in online safety.

"He can do this by committing to an Online Harms Bill that puts a legal Duty of Care on big tech to proactively identify and manage safety risks.

“Now is the time to get regulation done and create a watchdog with the teeth to hold tech directors criminally accountable if their platforms allow children to come to serious but avoidable harm.”

Emily's story:

Emily was 13 when she exchanged messages and photos with a man she believed to be 15 on Facebook and Snapchat.

The man turned out to be 24 and sexually abused her.

Emily’s mum, Wendy, said:

“It’s important for social media to be regulated and for Facebook and Instagram to take more responsibility to keep the people who use their platform safe.

"All other businesses have a Duty of Care to keep children safe, so why not them?”