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Grooming Alerts Needed To Protect Online

NSPCC plans to keep young internet users safe

Six months on from the introduction of a new anti-grooming law in Wales, the NSPCC's calling for the UK Government and Technology companies to do more to keep young internet users safe online.

They want the introduction of grooming alerts.

The new law, which came into force after an NSPCC campaign, has led to more than 1,300 crimes being recorded in Wales and England.

The new offence of 'sexual communication with a child' was introduced in April 2017 following the NSPCC's Flaw in the Law campaign, which exposed the fact that adults could contact children online but police could not intervene until groomers met their victims. 

In the first six months following its introduction there have been 136 grooming offences recorded in Wales with children as young as seven the alleged victims. 

South Wales Police saw the highest number of recorded grooming crimes in six months with 74, followed by North Wales Police with 23, Gwent Police with 20 and Dyfed Powys Police with 19.

With this much-needed legislation now in place, the NSPCC is now calling on the UK Government, law enforcement and tech companies to do more to keep young internet users safe, rather than relying on police to step in once harm has already been done.

Part of this approach, the charity says, would involve utilising technology already at the tech firms' disposal to introduce more effective grooming alerts and to make better use of moderators on their platforms who are trained to spot the signs of grooming behaviour.

A spokesman said, "The UK Government's Internet Safety Strategy must introduce a mandatory code enforced by a regulator which forces social networks to protect children online or face real consequences. 

"The new anti-grooming law goes some way to making children safer from predatory adults who set out to contact them, establish a relationship and then ultimately abuse them. 

"But further progress is needed to make it far more difficult for groomers to operate online and make the internet a far safer police for children than it currently is."

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