New data has revealed an alarmingly high number of people in positions of trust have been arrested on suspicion of accessing indecent online images of children.
A National Crime Agency (NCA) report released yesterday reveals that, through coordinated working with the police, they have identified nearly 700 potential online child abuse offenders. Of these alleged offenders, 104 are people in positions of trust – teachers, medical staff, care workers, government officials and people working in law enforcement and criminal justice.
The NCA confirmed that, as part of this operation, nearly 400 children have been safeguarded.
A Cause for Concern
The figures were released as the national police lead on child protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said he’s concerned that the problem of child sexual exploitation could be getting worse.
Over the past few years – particularly since the Jimmy Savile investigations – more and more survivors of abuse have found the confidence to come forward. People who once felt unable to speak out about the abuse they suffered now find they have the courage to do so in the knowledge that they will be listened to, and that police will deal with their complaints sincerely and with great sensitivity.
Mr Bailey acknowledged this by saying that, since Savile, "society's confidence in the ability of the police service to respond to the threat has been significantly improved and enhanced", but he also raised a concern that the number of arrests might also be down to the problem of child sexual exploitation getting worse.
He said that there were certain niche areas of child abuse that are not yet fully understood, such as the live streaming of abuse, but vowed to find evidence of such abuse and bring the perpetrators to justice.
"Do I professionally think that more abuse is being perpetrated?”, he added, “Yes. Have I got the evidence to support that at this moment in time? No. Am I going to try and find it? Yes I am."
Mr Bailey said that, even though 93 per cent of people arrested were previously unknown to police in relation to child abuse, they were caught because of a targeted investigation. He added that the arrests demonstrate “a new level of intent to stop offenders viewing indecent images and abusing children”.
Johnny Gwynne of the NCA expects more people to be charged as the investigation continues, saying: "Ultimately, all of this is about keeping children safe."
Kim Harrison is a principal lawyer specialising in abuse claims and head of human rights at Slater and Gordon Lawyers UK.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have the UK’s most experience team of abuse lawyers who are currently representing over 800 survivors of abuse. These include many who have been abused by people in positions of trust, such as school teachers, medical staff and prison officers. We also represent many people who have been abused at institutions such as schools, hospitals, care homes and sports clubs.
With many years’ experience of helping survivors of abuse, we completely understand how much courage it takes to speak out and give you our assurance that any communication with us will be dealt with in complete confidence.
For a free consultation, call us anytime 24/7 on 0800 946 9016 or contact us online and let us know when and where you’d prefer us to call you.