Due to social-distancing measures and the closure of schools, children are spending more time at home on the internet than ever before. Law enforcement officials are concerned that individuals who sexually exploit and groom children will use the internet to target children on social media during this unprecedented time.

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), at least 300,000 individuals in the UK may target children for sexual abuse. The figure includes both online and physical abuse and represents the position before the government imposed social-distancing measures. The NCA has warned that social-distancing measures may cause this number to increase.

The NCA also found that it only takes three clicks to access Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) material on the Internet and that perpetrators of CSE are using online chatrooms to openly discuss opportunities to commit offences amid the Coronavirus crisis.

Over 500 sexual offenders are arrested by the NCA and the Police every month.

A new campaign targeting perpetrators of child sexual exploitation has been launched by Police Scotland. The campaign is aimed at known offenders and those at risk of offending.

The digital campaign includes a video and a social media hashtag #GetHelpOrGetCaught. The campaign will run on Twitter, Facebook, SnapChat and YouTube and cost £55,000 to execute.

Assistant Chief Constable of Police Scotland, Duncan Sloan, stated that “people are at home, that they have more time to access the internet and that the potential risk of online child abuse is therefore extremely high”.

ACC Sloan also stated that “Offenders will be identified and arrested and they will face the consequences of their actions: not just a conviction but the potential loss of family, reputation and work or livelihood”

CSE via the Internet is a growing problem in the UK. In Scotland alone, there were nearly 1700 offences recorded between April 2019 and February 2020. This figure has increased by 1000 since 2018.

Unfortunately, many children who have suffered CSE in any form will have suffered, and may continue to suffer, significant psychological harm due to the abuse. We realise that this may affect them throughout their lives. However, pursing a claim often helps our clients to bring closure to their ordeal and to provide the resources to fund medical treatment and therapy they may require.

Here at Farleys, we have substantial experience of dealing with claims arising from online sexual abuse suffered by children, including allegations of sexual abuse by grooming gangs, and other individuals in positions of power or trust.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of online sexual abuse, including child grooming, revenge porn or covert recording, you can discuss a potential claim with one of our experienced solicitors. We appreciate that it can be very difficult to talk about what happened. We address all enquiries with sensitivity and in the strictest confidence. Call our specialist abuse line on 0330 134 6430 or email us today.