There has been a sharp increase in the number of abusers meeting children in Nottinghamshire after grooming them.
Investigations by children’s charity the NSPCC have revealed that police recorded 27 offences of meeting a child following sexual grooming in Nottinghamshire in the year to March 2016. This is opposed to just one recorded case in the year to March 2012.
To combat this, police now have the power to stop groomers sooner by invoking a law that makes it illegal to send sexual messages to children.
The law was created in 2015 following the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law campaign, however the Government failed to bring the law into force in England and Wales, leaving police hands tied and preventing them from arresting groomers until they meet the child or sexually abuse them.
Following further campaigning by the charity, the law has now been brought into effect, meaning police will be able to arrest anyone who sends a sexual message to a child, and intervene before physical abuse takes place.
Similar legislation is already in place in Scotland and Northern Ireland. Since 2010 more than 1,500 offences of grooming have been recorded by police in Scotland alone.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “This is a victory for the 50,000 people who supported the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law campaign. It is a victory for common sense.
“Children should be as safe online as they are offline, wherever they are in the UK. This law will give police in England and Wales the powers they need to protect children from online grooming, and to intervene sooner to stop abuse before it starts.”