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NSPCC child abuse warning
POLICE made 230 arrests for child pornography offences in Hampshire in the last year, with some offenders caught with more than 11,000 pictures.
Now the NSPCC is calling for urgent action to stamp out the illegal trade in child abuse images.
It says the latest figures, which it gained through submitting a Freedom of Information request, are in stark contrast to 1990 – before the internet became so popular.
Back then the Home Office estimated there were just 7,000 hard copy images in circulation across England and Wales. Now, at least five times that amount are being confiscated every day.
A spokesman for the charity said: “Since 1995 the number of people convicted in England and Wales has risen more than 1,700 per cent from 85 to 1,495 last year.
“In some investigations the sheer scale of images is so immense that police concentrate on a sample.
“The pictures are graded from level one, the lowest, to category five, which involves sadism. Many of the pictures involve children under ten and even babies appear in some.
“There have been several court cases this year involving huge amounts of indecent images of children. A man in Hampshire was found guilty of possessing and making more than 11,000 images.”
Julie Cole, regional head of service for South London and the South East, said: “The number of these dreadful images is absolutely appalling. And let’s not forget only a handful of police forces could supply figures.
“The truly awful thing is that more and more children are being abused so these pictures can be produced and once in circulation they may stay there for many years. If we can halt this vile trade we will be saving countless children from suffering sexual assaults which have a huge impact on their lives.
“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 to this corrosive problem which cannot be allowed to continue.
“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. ”