A new report released on Friday 21st June, involving over 2,000 experts in online child sex offending has made strong recommendations on how to better prevent the growing problem of child sexual offending on the internet. The report, downloadable from the grantholder webpage, was released at a PEARL Activity grant-supported launch event attended by policy makers, representatives from child services, treatment providers, law enforcement agencies and academia.
Recent surveys have found that technological developments are limiting international capacity for the prevention, detection, and prosecution of online child sexual offending behaviour (e.g. NetClean, 2018). Moreover, “investigators still have to deal with significant numbers of offenders committing preventable crimes such as viewing and sharing indecent images and videos known to law enforcement” (National Crime Agency, 2018).
The recommendations come amid the group’s concerns about ‘epidemic levels’ of child sexual exploitation material (CSEM) offending online. The number of UK-related case referrals received by the National Crime Agency from the online industry almost trebled between 2016 and 2018 – rising from 43,072 case referrals in 2016 to 113,948 in 2018. In the year 2018 alone, the US National Center for Missing and Exploited Children received 18.4 million referrals of suspected online child sex offending cases from around the world (National Crime Agency, 2019).