NSPCC reveals almost 2,000 North East grooming crimes committed against children

Rising levels of online grooming ignites debate around the charity's Online Safety Bill

Ollie Withers
11th September 2023
Image Credit: Pixabay
Since the NSPCC first proposed the Online Safety Bill six years ago, almost 34,000 online grooming crimes have been recorded by the police, with nearly 2,000 (5%) of those occurring in the North East region. In Northumbria, 788 offences were recorded in total, followed by 749 in Cleveland and 450 in Durham.
Of the 34,000 crimes recorded nationally, 1 in 4 involved primary school children, and where the gender was revealed, 83% of the victims were girls. The draft Online Safety Bill was first introduced two years ago, with MPs and Lords set to make their final decisions on the bill this month.
However, it has faced backlash from tech firms and bosses, who say it will threaten their encryption services and that answering to an independent government regulator will make them less competitive, whilst some commentators are concerned that the conditions it places will make the UK a less appealing destination for technology conglomerates and the growing cyber sector.
But with 73% of the online grooming crimes of the past 6 years taking place on Snapchat or Meta-owned platforms, with over 150 apps, games and websites being used in total to groom children, the NSPCC argues that these very same tech bosses and firms need tougher responsibilities laid on them, to crack down on the crimes occurring nationwide and in our own community.
The Online Safety Bill is currently in it's final reading stage, and once Parliament returns from its summer recess, it could be introduced to law as soon as this autumn.
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