296 cyber child sex crimes recorded in Wales

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The internet was used to commit 296 sex crimes against children as young as six in Wales last year, new figures have shown.

A total of 21 victims were aged under 10 and offences includes rape, sexual assault and grooming, said the NSPCC.

The welfare charity said it was the first year police had been required to "cyber flag" sex crimes involving children and the internet.

It said 3,000 such crimes were recorded last year in Wales and England.

Across Wales, there was a variation in the numbers of offences cyber-flagged.

Dyfed Powys Police recorded 116 offences, North Wales 95, Gwent 59 and South Wales 26.

North Wales Police recorded three rapes involving use of the internet; against two boys, under 13 and 16, and a girl aged under 13.

NSPCC Cymru head Des Mannion said: "The sheer number of cases confirms our fears that the digital world is playing a significant role in the sexual abuse of children.

"It's clear that a large volume of sexual assaults, and in some cases rapes, have involved use of the internet - for example by grooming victims before abusing them offline, or live-streaming the abuse.

"Online abuse can be just one click away and we need innovative solutions to help keep Welsh children safe."

The figures, which were obtained by the NSPCC via a Freedom of Information request to police in England and Wales, are being discussed at its annual child protection conference in London.

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