'Over 300,000 paedophiles in UK will exploit lockdown'


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At least 300,000 people in the UK pose a sexual threat to children as paedophiles look to exploit the coronavirus lockdown, the National Crime Agency (NCA) warned on Friday.

Investigators have identified offenders discussing opportunities to abuse children during the COVID-19 crisis in chats online and the police were warning of a spike in abuse with schools closed and youngsters spending more time on the Internet, the Metro newspaper reported.

It comes after the NSPCC warned that children stuck at home using the Internet during lockdown creates a "perfect storm" for offenders to abuse online.

The figure, published in the NCA's latest national strategic assessment on Friday, includes around 250,000 UK-based user accounts on the worst child abuse websites on the dark web – up from around 140,000 last year.

The NCA said some 94,342 UK residents contacted the Lucy Faithfull Foundation child protection charity to report themselves or someone close to them who was sexually attracted to children in 2019 – up from 43,000 the previous year.

Chief Constable Simon Bailey, the National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) lead for child protection said: "It is sickening to think that some criminals are looking to exploit the coronavirus crisis to cause harm online.

"Despite the issues that the pandemic will cause for law enforcement, child protection is still a priority and we remain totally committed to keeping our young people safe."

Source: IANS

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