UK Home Secretary warns 80,000 predators pose online threat to children

UK Home Secretary warns 80,000 predators pose online threat to children
UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid © Republic of Korea/Jeon Han

UK Home Secretary Sajid Javid has warned in a speech that there could be up to 80,000 paedophiles in the country posing an online threat to children.

The speech follows figures obtained from the country’s National Crime Agency, which indicated that reporting of child sexual abuse images have risen by 700% over the last five years. According to Javid, the current scale of the problem is unprecedented, with concerns that up to 80,000 paedophiles could pose an online threat to children in the UK alone.

According to figures obtained by the BBC, police in England and Wales recorded about 23 online child sexual offences every day over the past year, up from 15 per day over the previous 12 months. Further, the Home Office has warned that images of the abuse of babies and children under ten are becoming more prevalent, demonstrating an urgent need for preventative action.

Can technology help to prevent the spread of child sexual abuse images online?

In his speech, Javid announced his horror at the scale of the problem, and indicated that he will make it his personal mission to tackle the online threat to children. However, some national child protection bodies have also called upon technology companies, social media platforms and internet service providers to use image recognition software and other technologies to strengthen the potential police response to child sexual abuse, online and in person.

Javed Khan, chief executive of Barnardo’s, welcomed the UK’s new commitment to tackling the problem of child sexual abuse. Khan explained: “We welcome Sajid Javid’s commitment to ramp up the government’s efforts to tackle online child sexual abuse. The government must now deliver its promise to make the UK the safest place to be online by forcing online companies to ensure effective safeguards are in place to help better protect children. Any delay to acting now could put a generation of children in danger online.”

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