Increase in men seeking help over internet images of children

Campaigners are warning that people who view sexual images of children online usually end up in jail
Campaigners are warning that people who view sexual images of children online usually end up in jail

Dozens of men from across the region have contacted a charity helpline in the last 12 months to get help to stop viewing sexual images of children online.

New figures just released reveal that 36 people from Greater Manchester called a confidential helpline operated by Stop it Now!

The sexual abuse prevention campaign is run by child protection charity, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and offers anonymous, effective support for those worried about their own or someone else’s online sexual behaviour.

The local calls, made between October 2015 and September 2016, represent a 44% increase in the number received from the same region over the previous 12 month period, and are among the highest across the country.

In addition, hundreds visited the Stop it Now! Get Help website to access online self-help tools and resources to tackle their viewing of sexual images of children online.

The figures come at a time when the police are reporting an escalation, across the UK, in online viewing and sharing of child abuse images. In 2013 the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) estimated that as many as 50,000 individuals in the UK were involved in downloading or sharing sexual images of children. But last month National Police Chiefs Council Lead for Child Protection, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, said that at least 100,000 people in the UK were now regularly viewing online sexual images of children.

Chief Superintendent Chris Green, from the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit, Titan said: “Every one of us has a part to play in putting a stop to the sexual exploitation of children online and I would encourage parents, grandparents, teachers, health professionals, social services and any other adults to take time to better educate themselves.

“Titan, working alongside forces across the region, is committed to the protection and wider safeguarding of young people, and in doing so we will work with partner agencies to, where possible, prevent such abuse and investigate such incidents.”

Child sexual abuse prevention expert and founder of Stop it Now!, Donald Findlater, said: “Imagine what it is like for a husband and father to have to tell his wife and children that he has been arrested for viewing sexual images of children online. And then having to tell his boss. And then his friends.

“We have worked with thousands of men after they have been arrested - all with bitter regrets about the harm they have done to their families, to the victims in the images they viewed, and to themselves. We need the tens of thousands of men still viewing these images to realise that what they are doing is illegal and to make sure they stop. Here at Stop it Now! we give them all the help we can – by phone and online. And it is confidential.

“But we also want to hear from wives, partners, parents who are worried about a loved one’s sexual behaviour online. We must not turn a blind eye to this behaviour. Confidential help and support is available from Stop it Now!“

In addition to these 36 who rang the Stop it Now! Helpline, a further seven adults from this area rang over the same period to express their concerns about the online behaviour of another adult. These calls are typically from wives or parents.