The number of offences involving sick child abuse images in Northamptonshire has increased year-on-year.
The NSPCC has revealed that 263 offences were recorded in 2017/18 - seven per cent more than last year’s figure of 245.
Earlier this year Steven Newlands, a former teacher from Corby, was jailed for 16 months for downloading indecent images of children and described as “every parent’s worst nightmare” by the NSPCC.
Now the the charity is warning that offenders are using social networks to target children for abuse online, grooming and manipulating them into sending naked images.
Without adequate support the impact of this abuse can last a lifetime.
Tony Stower, NSPCC’s head of child safety online, said: “Every one of these images represents a real child who has been groomed and abused to supply the demand of this appalling trade.
“The lack of adequate protections on social networks has given offenders all too easy access to children to target and abuse.
“This is the last chance saloon for social networks on whose platforms this abuse is often taking place.”
New figures obtained via Freedom of Information requests to every police force found an offence was recorded on average every 23 minutes in 2017/18 in the UK, and that the number of offences has risen by almost a quarter in a year to 22,724.
The biggest rise in offences in the region was in Bedfordshire, where the number of crimes almost doubled from 118 to 200.
A single offence recorded by police can involve hundreds of indecent images of children.
The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on the Government to prevent abuse from happening in the first place by introducing an independent regulator to hold social networks to account and tackle grooming to cut off the supply of these images at source.
Last month, an NSPCC survey of 40,000 young people revealed an average of one in 50 schoolchildren had sent a nude or semi-nude image to an adult.
While UK authorities work to remove child abuse images from the internet new images are constantly uploaded.
In 2017, the Internet Watch Foundation identified over 78,000 URLs containing child sexual abuse images.
Mr Stower added: “Our Wild West Web campaign is calling on Government to introduce a tough independent regulator to hold social networks to account and tackle grooming to cut off supply of these images at source.”
The NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign is calling on Government to create an independent regulator to hold social networks to account.
Join the NSPCC’s campaign and sign the petition online by visiting https://e-activist.com/page/28984/petition/1.