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More is needed to protect Derbyshire’s children from online grooming

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A charity claims 18 child grooming offences have been recorded in Derbyshire since a new law was brought in last year - but more needs to be done.

Following a campaign by the NSPCC, sexual communication with a child was made a crime in April 2017, allowing offenders to be arrested before they meet their victims.

The youngest victim in Derbyshire was 10 years old - and the majority of victims were girls aged 12 to 15.

The charity is now calling on Government and social networks to develop technology already at their disposal to prevent grooming, and bring in grooming alerts for victims and moderators.

Tony Stower, NSPCC head of child safety online, said: “Despite the staggering number of grooming offences in just six months, Government and social networks are not properly working together and using all the tools available to stop this crime from happening.”

The charity claims the Government’s Internet Safety Strategy needs to introduce groomer alerts, so that children can be warned when they are speaking to someone online and sexual language is used.

Tony added: “The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has said that its Internet Safety Strategy will produce a code for social networks that will only be voluntary, and that code will not include measures to prevent grooming. Government’s Internet Safety Strategy must require social networks to build in technology to keep their young users safe, rather than relying on police to step in once harm has already been done.

“If Government makes a code for social networks that is entirely optional and includes no requirement for platforms to tackle grooming, this is a massive missed opportunity.”