Children are increasingly being targeted on the web by sex offenders – with an average of 22 crimes a day taking place online last year, NSPCC figures have revealed.
Last year, a record 721 child sexual offences logged by West Yorkshire Police had an online element, according to figures obtained by the NSPCC.
That compares to 294 three years earlier.
Nationally it was 8,224.
The NSPCC fears that the figures may not reveal the true extent of the problem due to potential under-recording of the role of online in these crimes and wide logging variation across forces. It also comes on top of other online harms against children recorded by police such as indecent image offences.
The worrying figures have been revealed ahead of the NSPCC’s flagship annual conference How Safe Are Our Children? which begins on Tuesday.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO, said: “Behind each offence is a child suffering at the hands of sex offenders and, worryingly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg.
“Far too many children are drowning in a sea of online threats so it’s now time for the next Prime Minister, whoever he may be, to cast out the life jacket.
“He must hold his nerve and introduce an independent regulator to protect children from the risks of abuse and harmful content.”