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Call to action over child abuse images
THE NSPCC is calling for urgent action to stamp out the trade in child abuse images after figures revealed 90 arrests were made by Wiltshire Police last year.
A Freedom of Information (FoI) request revealed 90 people were arrested by Wiltshire Police from 2011 to 2012 for taking, possessing or distributing indecent images of children.
In 1990 the Home Office estimated there were just 7,000 hard copy images in circulation in the UK, but now at least five times that number are confiscated every day, with the internet often used to distribute the images.
Since 1995 the number of people convicted for taking, possessing or distributing images in England and Wales has risen from 85 to 1,495, an increase of more than 1,700 per cent.
In some investigations the scale of images is so big that police concentrate on a sample. One Wiltshire case involved a man with more than 5,000 images.
Sharon Copsey, NSPCC regional head of service for the south west, said: “The number of these dreadful images is absolutely appalling. The authorities are working hard to clamp down on this but there are still far too many pictures available. It’s time the government and industry got together to find an answer.
“There are obviously paedophile rings which make a sordid business of sharing these images. But there are now so many in circulation that people from all walks of life are getting caught with them. They have to understand these are not just images – they are crime scenes.”
John Carr, secretary of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety, said: “It’s reasonable to assume that, as there is a seemingly never-ending conveyor belt of images, more children are being abused to satisfy demand. And research has shown that the victims are getting younger and younger and are being assaulted in ever more grotesque and violent ways.
“These numbers beggar belief but we need to face up to the realities of the situation and find better, more effective ways of tackling it.”