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Huge Increase In People Seeking Help To Stop Looking At Sexual Images Of Children In North-West England



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The number of people seeking help to stop them looking at sexual images of children online has more than doubled in the north-west of England in just six months, the latest figures have revealed.

In some areas of the region, there have been increases of almost 200% of people seeking help for either their own online sexual behaviour, or that of someone they know.

The dramatic rise follows a major public awareness raising campaign launched by Stop it Now!, a child sexual abuse prevention project run by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, a UK-wide charity dedicated to tackling child sexual abuse.

In the six months between July 2017 and January 2018, 1,747 people from across the north-west of England asked for help to stop them looking at child pornography.

In the following six months, that figure leapt to 3,549 – a rise of 103%. There were particularly steep increases in Lancashire, Cumbria and Cheshire.

Lancashire saw a rise of 146% in people seeking help, Cumbria saw a 186% rise and Cheshire saw a massive 193% increase over the six month period.

The campaign was supported by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and police forces in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria and North Wales.

Every time a sexual image of a child is viewed, that child is re-victimised and further demand is created.

Assistant chief constable Alan Barr, North West regional lead for Serious and Organised Crime, said: “The problem of viewing indecent images of children online has grown exponentially in recent years.

“Technological advancements, increased accessibility, and the presumption of anonymity have all led to more and more people viewing and sharing illegal images.

“Every time a sexual image of a child is viewed, that child is re-victimised and further demand is created.”

Barr said: “Enforcement activity remains a high priority for police locally, regionally and nationally. And being arrested comes with life-changing consequences for offenders and their families.

“To those engaged in this behaviour, I would say consider your actions now and seek help to stop. If not, you should expect to face serious consequences.”

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Lancashire Constabulary’s Assistant Chief Constable Jo Edwards said: “As a police service we have a duty to protect children from harm and deter individuals from committing these types of horrific offences.

“As such, we remain committed to identifying and convicting those individuals who wish to share indecent images and engage with children online for sexual gratification.

However, we also recognise the need to educate and stop individuals from continuing to offend, or prevent individuals from offending in the first place.

“Our partnership with the Lucy Faithful Foundation and this wider regional partnership plays a key role in this and we are delighted to see that early indications show this work is paying dividends with an increase in people seeking out information and support.

“This means that potentially we have been able to safeguard more children at risk of exploitation or prevented someone from offending.”

Donald Findlater, director of the Stop it Now helpline, said: “We are delighted with the success of the campaign so far, with nearly 600 people from the North West seeking help with online sexual behaviour towards children every month.

“Mostly these will be men seeking help to manage their own behaviour in viewing sexual images of children.

“But a growing number of other adults – wives, partners and parents – are getting in contact because of concerns about the online sexual behaviour of someone they love.”

He said there are “thousands” more people in the north-west continuing to view sexual images of children online. “Some of these those engaged in this behaviour will be reading these words now. All of them need to be clear that sexual images of children are illegal, that children are harmed when they are made, and also each time they are viewed.”

He said the project’s helpline “The Stop it Now! Helpline offers them a confidential place to get help so their illegal online behaviour stops and stays stopped. Getting help takes just a phone call.”

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