NSPCC Cymru in social media regulator call over indecent images

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Police forces in Wales recorded almost four child abuse images offences a day in the past two years, new figures show.

A Freedom of Information Request shows 2,895 of the sex crimes have been logged in Wales since April 2016.

NSPCC Cymru said social media was mostly to blame and an independent regulator was needed.

The UK Government said it takes the issue very seriously and is considering new laws.

Earlier this year, child protection experts expressed alarm following a 15% increase in grooming in Wales.

According to the latest figures, released by the NSPCC, South Wales, North Wales and Gwent police forces all saw increases in the number of offences in the past year.

The largest rise was recorded by North Wales Police - up 30% from 287 in 2016/2017 to 373 in 2017/2018.

And the largest number of offences recorded was by South Wales Police, with 528 and 543 crimes in 2016/2017 and 2017/2018 respectively.

Dyfed-Powys Police was the only Welsh force to log a drop in the number of offences - down from 363 in 2016/2017 to 275 in 2017/2018.

'Appalling trade'

In Wales, the most common offence related to taking, making or distributing indecent images - accounting for nearly two-thirds of all activity.

The charity said a single offence recorded by police can involve hundreds of indecent images of children.

Des Mannion, head of the NSPCC Cymru, added: "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.

"We are calling on the UK 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."

UK crime minister Victoria Atkins said the scale of online child sexual exploitation was a "stain on our world".

"The home secretary has made five unequivocal demands of web giants to remove child sexual abuse content from their platforms, including stopping grooming and shutting down live-streaming," she said.

"He expects immediate action and how far we legislate will be informed by the action and attitude taken by the technology industry."

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