Police have recorded an 80 per cent rise in abusers in Northamptonshire meeting children after grooming them over the last five years – but from today police will have the powers to stop groomers sooner.
From today online grooming is a crime in England and Wales, meaning police will be able to arrest anyone who sends a sexual message to a child, and intervene before physical abuse takes place.
Police recorded 22 offences of meeting a child following sexual grooming in Northamptonshire in the year to March 2016. This was up from 12 in 2012, according to Home Office figures.
“The Justice Secretary has done the right thing,” said NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless.
“Children should be as safe online as they are offline, wherever they are in the UK.
“This law will give police in England and Wales the powers they need to protect children from online grooming, and to intervene sooner to stop abuse before it starts.”
Similar legislation is already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since 2010 more than 1,500 offences of grooming have been recorded by police in Scotland alone.
A law was created in 2015 to make it illegal to send sexual messages to children, after pressure from the NSPCC via their Flaw in the Law campaign.
The Government failed to bring that law into force in England and Wales thereby preventing police from arresting groomers until they meet the child or sexually abuse them.