Wales

'160,000 child images recovered after each warrant'

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An average of 160,000 images are recovered every time an online child sexual abuse warrant is issued, a South Wales Police officer has said.

Assistant Chief Constable Jonathan Drake warned about the growth in viewing and sharing of sexual images of under 18s online.

An operation led by South Wales Police since November 2016 has so far led to 43 arrests

Saturday is national Stop Child Sexual Exploitation day.

In the run-up to it, Mr Drake described the average number of images recovered following each warrant as "huge".

"What is quite unique around online offending is that children who may be at home, in their bedroom, are still at risk, which is a relatively new issue to address," he said.

A major issue he highlighted was changes in technology - such as apps and chat rooms - which children are using.

Another is the role parents can play and the importance of educating them so they are "alive to signs" of child sexual exploitation.

'Most vulnerable'

The extent of the issue has become clearer since November 2015, when the National Police Chiefs' Council found 100,000 people across the UK were regularly accessing indecent images of children online.

In response, Operation Net Safe launched across Wales in November 2016 and has been led by South Wales Police.

About 3,699 people from Wales have also visited the Stop it Now self-help website gaining support about online offending in the past two months.

Operation Net Safe brings protection organisations together and South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Alun Michael said it helps to "protect the most vulnerable in our communities and challenge those who seek to exploit and harm children".

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