New law to stop increase in online child grooming

Reporter:

Jonny Drury

NEW figures have revealed the number of groomers meeting children in Dyfed-Powys has risen by 91 per cent in five years.

The figures have been released as part of the NSPCC’s #FlawintheLaw campaign for anti-grooming laws.

The organisation has praised new laws coming into place, which will offer tougher legislation to protect children online.

Figures show offences of meeting a child after grooming are on the rise, with offences in Dyfed Powys rising from 23 to 44 in the last five years, a 91 per cent rise.

Police now have the power 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 England and Wales, leaving police’s hands tied and preventing them from arresting online groomers until further abuse had taken place.

From April 3, 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.

“It is a victory for common sense.

“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.”

A Dyfed Powys Police spokesperson said: “Dyfed-Powys Police has dedicated more resources into tackling the growing issue of grooming, in particular online grooming.”

See full story in the County Times

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