Offences against Children: Internet

Home Office written question – answered on 8th February 2019.

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Photo of Sarah Champion Sarah Champion Labour, Rotherham

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps his Department plans to take to stop the spread of child sexual abuse material online.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

Child sexual abuse has been declared a national threat, and the Govern-ment is investing millions of pounds to enable officers to actively seek out and bring offenders to justice.

We have announced a £40m package of measures to protect children and young people from sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking, and to crack down on offenders. This includes a significant increase in resources to the National Crime Agency, leading to a near doubling of the CEOP Command's investigative capability.

In the Home Secretary’s speech on online child sexual abuse at the NSPCC on 3 September, he announced that the Home Office will be investing an extra £21 million over the following 18 months to bolster the response of our law enforcement agencies to these types of crimes.

This money will be used to improve how our agencies reduce the volume of offending and pursue the most dangerous and prolific offenders.

He also announced a further £2.6 million to collaborate with child protection organisations to improve our understanding of offender behaviour and prevent future offending. This includes support to the Lucy Faithfull Foundation which aims to change the behaviour of offenders and potential offenders by highlighting the harm and suffering that takes place behind every image.

We have also made £250,000 available to support new ideas on how to de-tect and disrupt the live-streaming of abuse.

Furthermore, in November the Home Secretary co-hosted the Microsoft-led Hackathon in America, where he met with leading industry stakeholders to identify robust ways to tackle and prevent child sexual abuse on the internet. A prototype tool was developed at the Hackathon that can be used to automatically flag potential conversations taking place between online groomers and children, which will be licensed free of charge to technology companies worldwide.

We have already committed to legislate and will set out our plans in the forthcoming Online Harms White Paper. The White Paper will set out new laws to tackle the full range of online harms and set clear responsibilities for tech companies to keep UK citizens safe.

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