Sajid Javid, Home Secretary has warned companies to take child sexual abuse online seriously or face the introduction of new legislation. He has said that, “he will not be afraid to take action.”

Live streaming of child sexual abuse online is a growing problem due to the increase of smartphone technology, faster internet speeds and the ease of money transfers between countries. It is the desire of the Home Secretary for technological companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and Apple to work “more closely with law enforcement agencies” and to have more efficient systems in place to block abuse material and stop grooming from taking place on their sites.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has estimated that approximately 80,000 people in the UK at the present time “present a sexual threat to children online.” According to new figures the referral of child abuse images to the NCA has increased by 700% over the last 5 years.

The Home Office has also commented that the images are becoming more graphic and it now more frequent for images of abuse of children under the age of 10 years and babies to be shown.

Figures show that the Police in England and Wales recorded approximately 23 child sexual offences involving the internet every day in 2017/18, which is an increase to 15 offences a day over the last 12 months.

The NCA has also stated that. “In one week of action in July, 131 arrests were made, including teachers, a children’s entertainer and a former police officer. Only 13 of those arrested were registered sex offenders, 19 others held positions of trust.”

There has been support for tougher sentences to be given to people who download indecent images of children.

The technological companies have been investing in artificial intelligence to search for content being downloaded that contravene laws. However, this cannot police all content and it is necessary for the companies to employ people to constantly review the content. Google, Microsoft and Facebook have all confirmed that they are committed to investing in intelligence to protect more children and have a zero tolerance to child abuse material.

The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), which assesses and removes online child abuse material is fully supportive of Javid’s stance on online abuse and Susie Hargreaves, Chief Executive has said that offenders were becoming more “sophisticated in their crime”.

The National Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has called on the Government to create, “an independent regulator with power to investigate and fine platforms which do not do enough to catch groomers.

Tony Stower, Head of Child Safety Online at the NSPCC, has supported the Home Secretary and said,” it was right that the Home Secretary is laying down the challenge to big tech companies. These firms have been told time and again to play their part in stopping online child abuse, but have done very little.”

In his speech, Mr Javid said that the threat of online child sexual abuse “has evolved a lot more quickly than the industry’s response and industry has just not kept up. So let me say this – I’m not just asking for change, I am demanding it and the people are demanding it too – and if the web giants do not take more measures to remove this type of content from their platforms, I will not be afraid to take action.”

If you are concerned that a child is at risk or is being abused you can:

1 Contact the children’s social care team at their local council. You can choose not to give your details;
2 Report it online to the Child Exploitation and Online Protection command;
3 Call the NSPCC 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 for expert advice and support.

If you have been affected by anything in this article and would like to speak to one of our specialist abuse lawyers in confidence, please do not hesitate to contact us. We can advise you on the available options for pursuing a civil damages claim. Jordans successfully represent and secure compensation for numerous victims of abuse and are experts in overcoming the particular challenges that arise in these sensitive cases. Our abuse team can be contacted on free 0800 9555 094 or request a call back.

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