New trends in child sexual abuse offending and the growing availability of the internet in the developing world are likely to exacerbate the threat to children, the latest findings from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre warn. CEOP works in both online and offline environments to protect children from sexual exploitation. Full information on all areas of work, as well as online safety messages and access to online reporting, can be found at www.ceop.police.uk
In its annual Threat Assessment of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (TACSEA), the use of the âhidden internet’ and the live streaming of abuse are identified as new ways that offender’s are sexually abusing children.
The TACSEA, which sets out where CEOP will focus its activity in the coming year, as the organisation moves into the National Crime Agency (NCA) in October 2013, outlines four key threats:
- the proliferation of indecent images of children,
- online sexual exploitation,
- transnational child sexual abuse; and
- contact child sexual abuse.
Other key findings show that approximately 190,000 UK children (1 in 58) will suffer contact sexual abuse by a non-related adult before turning 18, with approximately 10,000 new child victims of contact sexual abuse being reported in the UK each year. Figures from the past year showed that CEOP received 1,145 reports of online child sexual exploitation.
In 2012, CEOP received 8,000 reports of indecent images of children being shared, featuring 70,000 still images and videos – a two-fold increase on previous years. Live streaming of child abuse footage is emerging as a growing method of abusers sharing indecent images and videos.
A number of different offender types are also identified, including those who target teenagers and young people on their basis of their vulnerability, those who have a long standing sexual interest in children and those that embed themselves in foreign countries for the purpose of child sexual abuse.
There are growing concerns over the use of the hidden internet; UK daily users connecting to secret or encrypted networks increased by two thirds, one of the largest annual increases globally. CEOP expects 20,000 daily UK users by the end of this year (although not all of these will use the hidden internet for criminal means)
Offenders are now investing a smaller amount of time focusing on larger numbers of victims, sometimes in their hundreds (with victims located all around the world and lone offending was the most prevalent offence type.
CEOP Chief Executive Peter Davies said: “It’s part of CEOP’s job to inform the public and our partners about how our understanding of the risk to children from sexual exploitation and abuse is developing. Every year we refresh our assessment and build our operational plans around it. This year, of course, our assessment will also feed into the wider efforts of the National Crime Agency, whose mission is to protect the public and cut crime. Events of the last year show that interest in protecting children, both online and offline, has never been greater and we hope that sharing what we know with as many other people as possible will help make children safer. Child protection isn’t the preserve of specialists; it’s the duty of every individual and of society in general. Only by building a shared understanding of the risks will we be able, collectively, to work effectively to eliminate them. Our assessment shows that, sadly, there are still too many children at risk and too many people who would cause them serious harm. We should all practice zero tolerance to child sexual exploitation and abuse. While the assessment may not make comfortable reading, that isn’t its purpose; it’s an objective assessment of the issues as we see them but as a result it is also, undoubtedly, a call to action. Within the National Crime Agency, the CEOP Command will play a pivotal role in sharing its expertise, specialist resources and knowledge to ensure that children are even safer in the future – not just here in the UK, but also abroad“.
To download the TACSEA please click here
Content adapted from CEOP’s Press Release