NSPCC call for action in Gloucestershire over paedophile downloads
THE NSPCC is calling for urgent action after it was revealed police fear up to 60,000 paedophiles are sharing pictures of child abuse online.
A senior officer from the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre has warned of a "dramatic rise in both volume and severity" of the images.
The charity wants to stamp out the problem in Gloucestershire, following 25 arrests in the county last year on suspicion of taking, possessing or distributing indecent images of children.
In response to a Freedom of Information request, Gloucestershire Police said it would take too long to interrogate files to see how many pictures of children being sexually abused they had found during investigations.
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The charity believes that in 1990 – before the internet became popular – the Home Office estimated there were 7,000 images in circulation in the UK.
Five times that amount now are confiscated every day.
NSPCC regional head of service for the South West, Sharon Copsey, said: "The number of these dreadful images is absolutely appalling. If we can halt this vile trade we will be saving countless children from suffering sexual assaults which have a huge impact on their lives.
"The authorities are working hard to clamp down on this, but there are still far too many pictures available."
Detective Inspector Mark Chicken, from the Child Protection Unit at Gloucestershire Constabulary, said: "The Constabulary's Child Abuse Investigation Team has a dedicated Internet Investigations Unit to tackle those who use the internet as a vehicle to offend against children by making, possessing or distributing indecent images.
"In June we took part in a joint operation between 42 police forces and officers from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca), targeting people thought to be in possession of child abuse images and we remain dedicated to tackling this type of crime."