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Worrying number of grooming cases in Scotland as campaigners urge new law

This news post is 9 months old

Social media is making gromming easier

Children’s charity NSPCC has revealed more than 3,500 grooming offences were recorded last year in Scotland.

Shockingly the figures show 1,873 of these offences took place against primary school children, with under-13s making up more than half of victims.

The data from Police Scotland also shows some 593 offences of communicating indecently with a child offences in 2022/23.

The charity believes the true number of offences are likely far higher than those known to police with the NSPCC urging politicians on all sides to support the online safety bill in its final stages through the UK parliament and make it legislation.

The legislation will mean tech companies have a legal duty of care for young users and must assess their products for child abuse risks and put mitigations in place to protect children.

It will also give regulator Ofcom powers to address significant abuse taking place in private messaging and require companies to put safeguards in place to identify and disrupt abuse in end-to-end encrypted environments.

Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive said: “Today’s research highlights the sheer scale of child abuse happening on social media and the human cost of fundamentally unsafe products.

“The number of offences must serve as a reminder of why the Online Safety Bill is so important and why the ground-breaking protections it will give children are desperately needed.

“We’re pleased the Government has listened and strengthened the legislation so companies must tackle how their sites contribute to child sexual abuse in a tough but proportionate way, including in private messaging.

“It’s now up to tech firms, including those highlighted by these stark figures today, to make sure their current sites and future services do not put children at unacceptable risk of abuse.”