Live streaming of child sex abuse via webcams is an emerging threat, experts have warned, amid a doubling of reported indecent images.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) said children were being “abused to order”. Offenders targeted vulnerable families overseas, paying them to facilitate child abuse, according to its report. Ceop said those carrying out abuse used a “hidden internet” to disguise their identity and avoid detection.
The number of still and moving child abuse images reported to Ceop has doubled in the last year to 70,000. The child protection body, which is part of Home Office’s Serious Organised Crime Agency, said it received 8,000 reports of indecent images of children being shared last year.
It said live streaming emerged in 2012 as a means of producing and distributing images. “We’re seeing cases where they’re effectively being abused to order for paying customers,” chief executive Peter Davies told the BBC. He said some of those exploiting children via the internet were in the UK.
Children are being forced to engage in sexual activity on live webcams in exchange for payment to the family or organised crime gangs, according to Ceop’s annual threat assessment of child exploitation and abuse. Online video services such as Skype were identified as aiding in the transmission of live images of abuse.
Ceop said many abusers were hiding their actions deep in the “hidden internet” by using encrypted networks and other secure methods to distribute images. These methods make it harder for law enforcement agencies to trace abusers.
An NSPCC spokeswoman said evidence from police in England and Wales indicated there were 20,000 sexual offences against children every year. “However, we believe this is far from the true situation as many cases are never revealed,” said the spokesman.
As we have seen in a number of recent abuse cases, abusers are utilising the internet and particularly social media to gain access to potential victims. As technology advances, it is vital that law enforcement agencies simultaneously advance their methods of detection to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected.
Farleys has a team of solicitors who specialise in helping victims of abuse to pursue compensation claims. If you would like to discuss the possibility of making an abuse compensation claim, please get in touch with us today for free of charge advice. All calls are treated with confidence.
By Jonathan Bridge, Child Abuse Claim Lawyer