There are up to 850,000 people who pose a sexual risk to children in Britain, according to a report from the United Kingdom’s equivalent to the FBI, the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The 2021 National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime published by the NCA on Tuesday claimed that between 550,000 and 850,000 people in the UK “pose varying forms of sexual risk to children.”
The report said that criminals are increasingly using the internet to prey on child victims in the UK, which the agency warned leads to real-world exploitation.
“Online exploitation has been shown to enable offending in the real world, with the online grooming of children leading to physical abuse and the large scale blackmailing of children to abuse themselves,” the NCA said, adding: “the child sexual abuse threat continues to grow, exacerbated by rising online activity.”
The report went on to say that the agency has stepped up its efforts to safeguard children, saying that in the first nine months of the 2020/21 reporting period, they made over 7,000 arrests and protected nearly 10,000 children from predators.
This included David Wilson, who targeted over 5,000 young boys on the internet worldwide, landing him a jail sentence of 25 years in February of this year.
The Director-General of the National Crime Agency, Dame Lynne Owens said: “Over the next year the NCA will continue to adapt: embracing ever stronger collaboration with partners, employing innovative approaches to intelligence collection and deploying our full range of capabilities to disrupt high-harm criminality impacting on the UK.
“But while the NCA will continue to lead the fight to cut serious and organised crime, it is imperative that technology and social media companies match this intensity, building in safety by design and closing down all avenues for offenders to exploit their platforms. In particular, we must move to a place of zero tolerance for the presence of such material online in order to raise the bar to offending and, most importantly, protect children.”