The serious dangers of children using online chat rooms have been exposed today in a new investigation, and now the NSPCC is calling on the Government to take urgent action.
Good Morning Britain conducted an undercover experiment which saw a producer from the programme pose as a 12 year – old girl in a range of chat rooms aimed at young teenagers and children.
Claire Lilley, NSPCC’s head of child safety online said: “The findings of the investigation are very worrying and should be seen as a wake up call. Sadly, we know that as children spend more time socialising online this is increasingly where predatory paedophiles are looking for their victims. In this case it was on grooming on a vast scale.”
Police whistleblower James Patrick said: “There is a growing attitude amongst police officers that anything online isn’t real. I’d estimate on the size of the gap of knowledge and from my experience of police technology that policing is at least 15 years behind in getting to grips with this problem.”
A Home Office spokesperson said: “Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime which this government is determined to stamp out. We have already introduced a voluntary system for law enforcement agencies to flag all crimes that have an online element. This will ensure we have a better picture of the extent of online child sexual exploitation. The system is currently being tested to ensure it is working accurately but the intention is that it will become mandatory in 2015/16.
“Alongside this, the National Crime Agency is utilising its expertise in cyber crime and its overseas reach to track down offenders and working with police forces across the UK to close the net on paedophiles and find their victims. The NCA is also educating parents and their children about protecting themselves online through its ThinkUKnow campaign.”
Anyone who is worried about a child and needing advice can call the NSPCC’s free 24 hour helpline on 0808 800 5000