Norfolk’s chief of police has warned that a “staple diet” of online pornography is leading young men to explore child abuse content.

Simon Bailey, chief constable at Norfolk Constabulary, has told a national podcast that a “new group” of online paedophiles is emerging, saying the United Kindom is the third biggest consumer of online child sexual abuse.

Speaking to the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF), Mr Bailey said a new generation of younger men are being drawn to child abuse imagery as a result of becoming “desensitised” to legal pornography.

Mr Bailey said: “What we are seeing is a new group of young men aged between 18 and 26 who have been brought up on a staple diet of going to visit Pornhub and sites like that.

“They get to the point where there’s no pornographic material that is stimulating them so then they start to explore what child abuse imagery might look like.

“They start getting their kicks from that.”

Mr Bailey, who is the national police lead for child protection, made the comments on IWF’s podcast Pixels From A Crime Scene, adding that he feared the problem could get worse as technology advances around the world.

“You look at the opportunities that will be afforded by people who are living in poverty to then exploit children to generate income,” he said.

Despite describing the UK’s response to the crime as “the best in the world bar none”, Mr Bailey said it was not enough to tackle the issue.

He said while around 500 offenders are arrested and 700 children are safeguarded every month, the number of referrals and the scale and level of depravity “just keep growing”.

He added: “We have got to start being very honest about this, we have got to start debating this more in public.

“We’ve got to start coming to terms with the fact that there are some appalling things taking place online that unfortunately the Internet is probably the root of most of the evils.

“We have to start looking at that and we have to start genuinely asking the question, how much more are we going to tolerate?”