Online Grooming is Offence in Wales

New law comes into effect today

Police have recorded a rise in abusers meeting children after grooming them in Wales over the last five years - but from today, they will have the powers to stop groomers sooner.

A law was created in 2015 to make it illegal to send sexual messages to children, following the NSPCC's Flaw in the Law campaign. 

Similar legislation is already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland and since 2010 more than 1,500 offences of grooming have been recorded by police in Scotland alone.

But the UK government failed to bring that law into force in Wales and England, leaving police's hands tied and preventing them from arresting online groomers until further abuse had taken place.

In the year to March 2016 in Wales police recorded 44 offences of 'meeting a child following sexual grooming'. This was up from 23 in 2011, according to Home Office figures.

Dyfed-Powys Police saw the largest increase in the recorded number of offences, from three in 2011/12 to 25 in 2015/16, while South Wales Police saw offences increase from three to 14.

Both Gwent and North Wales Police saw a fall in the number of recorded offences for meeting a child following sexual grooming.

The NSPCC pressured the UK Government to urgently enact the anti-grooming law, and Justice Secretary Liz Truss has finally listened.

From today (3 April) online grooming is a crime in England and Wales, meaning police will be able to arrest anyone who sends a sexual message to a child, and intervene before physical abuse takes place.

Des Mannion, Head of NSPCC Cymru / Wales, said: "The Justice Secretary has done the right thing.

"This is a victory for the 50,000 people who supported the NSPCC's Flaw in the Law campaign. It is a victory for common sense.

"Children should be as safe online as they are offline, wherever they are in the UK. 

"This law will give police in England and Wales the powers they need to protect children from online grooming, and to intervene sooner to stop abuse before it starts."

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