Ministers urged to confront social media giants over child grooming
A major children’s charity has urged ministers to push social media firms into using new technology in the fight against online child grooming.
The NSPCC said algorithms - as currently used to flag up images of child abuse, hate speech and extremist material - could highlight patterns of behaviour and alert the police.
It comes after a new law, brought in last April, was found to have led to 1,316 cases of online grooming being recorded in England and Wales in six months.
Before the Sexual Communication with a Child offence was introduced in April, police had to wait for groomers to attempt to meet their targets face-to-face before getting involved.
Girls aged between 12 and 15 were the most likely to be targeted by predators, it was found.
And sites including Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat were the most commons used by offenders, making up to 63% of all incidents.
Tony Stower, the NSPCC’s head of online child safety 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.”