Grooming crimes in Scotland up 80 per cent in five years to highest on record
Police Scotland data released by the children’s charity NSPCC Scotland found that 685 offences of communicating indecently with a child were recorded between April 2020 and March 2021.
It marks an 80 per cent jump from the 381 offences recorded in 2015/16 – and a 5 per cent increase on the 2019/20 figure of 651.
There were 462 offences in 2016/17, 429 in 2017/18 and 581 in 2018/19, making 2020/21’s figures the highest on record.
One 15-year-old girl who contacted the charity’s Childline counsellors told them: “I’ve been chatting with this guy who’s like twice my age.
“This all started on Instagram but lately our chats have been on WhatsApp.
“He seemed really nice to begin with, but then he started making me do these things to ‘prove my trust to him’, like doing video chats with my chest exposed.”
The data also showed that offences against children under the age of 13 were up 11 per cent from 334 to 370 between 2019/20 and 2020/21.
Despite this, the charity is continuing to call on social media companies and the UK Government to do more.
Joanne Smith, NSPCC Scotland policy and public affairs manager, said: “The failings of tech firms are resulting in record numbers of children being groomed and sexually abused online.
“To respond to the size and complexity of the threat, the UK Government must make child protection a priority in legislation and ensure the Online Safety Bill does everything necessary to prevent online abuse.
“Legislation will only be successful if it achieves robust measures to keep children truly safe now and in the future.”
Police Scotland and the UK Government have been contacted for comment.
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