A children’s charity called for urgent action yesterday to stamp out child abuse, after figures revealed the scale of the trade in indecent images of children.

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"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."

Dan Russell, from the NSPCC.

In response to a Freedom of Information request, Norfolk Constabulary said 44 people were arrested in 2011 for possessing or distributing indecent images of children, while police in Suffolk made 29 arrests.

The request was made by children’s charity the NSPCC who described the number as “appalling”.

Dan Russell, from the NSPCC, said: “The truly awful thing is that more and more children are being abused so these pictures can be produced and once in circulation they may stay there for many years.

“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.

“It’s time the government and industry got together to find an answer to this corrosive problem which cannot be allowed to continue.”

In one case a Norfolk man was found guilty of possessing 4,000 indecent images of children.

The figures are in stark contrast to 1990 when the Home Office estimated there were 7,000 hard copy images in circulation across England and Wales.

Now, at least five times that amount are being confiscated every single day, according to the NSPCC.

And since 1995 the number of people convicted in England and Wales has risen more than 1,700 per cent from 85 to 1,495 last year.

The pictures are graded from level one- the lowest- to category five, which involves sadism.

Many of the pictures are of children under ten.

John Carr, Secretary of the Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety, said: “Research has shown that the victims are getting younger and younger and are being assaulted in ever more grotesque and violent ways.”

Detective Superintendent Katie Elliott from Norfolk Constabulary said protecting children was a priority for the force.

She said: “Internet crimes such as these are far from victimless and every image depicts the very real abuse a young child has suffered.

“We will do everything within our power to protect victims who are subjected to these potentially life changing acts of indecency purely for the gratification of others.”

- To contact NSPCC’s trained helpline counsellors for 24/7 help, advice and support, call 0808 800 5000.

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