A record number of children have been safeguarded from sexual abusers in the past year, according to figures published today by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre in its Annual Review and Centre Plan.
The statistics are accompanied by a warning that new trends in child sexual offending, and the growing availability of high-speed internet around the globe is likely to increase the threat to children.
The Centre safeguarded and protected 790 children in 2012/2013 – an increase of 85% over the previous year and the highest yearly figure since the Centre launched in 2006. The total number of protected children in CEOP's seven year history is 2,255. The plan also reveals that CEOP dealt with 18,887 reports of abuse from the public and industry – 14% more than the previous year – with an average of 1,600 reports per month.
CEOP has set out four key threat areas where it will focus its activity in the forthcoming year as the organisation moves into the National Crime Agency (NCA) in October 2013:
– Proliferation of indecent images of children – particularly the production of still, moving and live streaming of child abuse images
– Online child sexual exploitation – with a focus on the systematic sexual exploitation of multiple child victims on the internet
– Transnational child sexual abuse – including both transient and resident UK nationals and British citizens committing sexual offences abroad
– Contact child sexual abuse – particularly the threat posed by organised crime-associated child sexual exploitation and the risks around missing children
CEOP Chief Executive Peter Davies said: "This past year has not only seen increases in the number of reports to the Centre from the public and industry, but also a large increase in the number of children CEOP has been able to protect and safeguard from some of the worst offenders who seek to exploit our children. We have also provided thousands of intelligence packages to police forces and children’s services, and have reached millions of children with our educational programme teaching them how to be safe."
Mr Davies adds: "Despite our successes, we aren't complacent. We recognise that the world is constantly changing and offenders will continue to seek new ways to abuse children, which is why our work with partners around the globe is constantly evolving to ensure we're always one step ahead of abusers."