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New trends in child sexual abuse offending

- Reports relating to 70,000 indecent images of children were received by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) in 2012 ... a 100% increase over the previous year

- 8,000 reports of obscene material being downloaded or shared in the UK were received in the same period

- 50,000 UK web users are involved in distributing abuse images

For information and advice on safeguarding children, click here.

These startling figures have been released in CEOP's annual Threat Assessment of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (TACSEA), released today.

New trends in child sexual abuse offending and the growing availability of the internet in third world countries are likely to increase the threat to children, with the use of the ‘hidden internet’ and the live streaming of abuse becoming more commonplace. A number of different offender types are also identified, including those who target teenagers and young people on their basis of their vulnerability, those with a long standing sexual interest in children and those that move abroad for the purpose of child sexual abuse.

The report sets out where the organisation will focus its activity in the coming year, and outlines four key threats:

- Proliferation of indecent images of children
- Online sexual exploitation
- Transnational child sexual abuse
- Contact child sexual abuse

Other equally disturbing findings are that approximately 190,000 UK children (1 in 58) will suffer contact sexual abuse by a non-related adult before turning 18, and approximately 10,000 new child victims of contact sexual abuse are being reported in the UK each year.

CEOP Chief Executive Peter Davies said: "It’s part of CEOP’s job to inform the public and our partners about how our understanding of the risk to children from sexual exploitation and abuse is developing.  Every year we refresh our assessment and build our operational plans around it. This year, of course, our assessment will also feed into the wider efforts of the National Crime Agency, whose mission is to protect the public and cut crime."

He continued: “Events of the last year show that interest in protecting children, both online and offline, has never been greater and we hope that sharing what we know with as many other people as possible will help make children safer. Child protection isn’t the preserve of specialists; it’s the duty of every individual and of society in general.  Only by building a shared understanding of the risks will we be able, collectively, to work effectively to eliminate them. Our assessment shows that, sadly, there are still too many children at risk and too many people who would cause them serious harm.  We should all practice zero tolerance to child sexual exploitation and abuse.  While the assessment may not make comfortable reading, that isn’t its purpose; it’s an objective assessment of the issues as we see them but as a result it is also, undoubtedly, a call to action."

CEOP will move into the newly-established National Crime Agency in October, where it will play a pivotal role in sharing its expertise, specialist resources and knowledge to ensure the safety of children and young people both in the UK and abroad.

For more information on the work of CEOP, visit www.ceop.police.uk and to access CEOP’s Thinkuknow educational site, visit www.thinkuknow.co.uk.