Norfolk police chief calls for tech firms to get tougher on child abuse

Simon Robert Bailey QPM at a ceremony where the Garland and Fricke families were reunited. Picture:

Simon Bailey, Norfolk police chief constable. - Credit: Archant

Big tech firms, such as Facebook, are "not doing enough" to stop online sexual abuse of children, the chief constable of Norfolk police has said.

Simon Bailey, Norfolk's chief constable also warned too many parents have a "laissez-faire attitude" to what children do in their bedrooms, as he issued a warning of the risks of unfiltered access to the web.

Mr Bailey, the National Police Chiefs' Council lead for child protection, said tech companies are "not doing enough" to prevent uploading, sharing and viewing of child abuse images.

He said: "I don't think their role in all this has been truly appreciated because without them the abuse wouldn't be able to take place in so many cases.

"It's the big market leaders that actually bear responsibility for making sure the internet is a safe place for our children and for our grandchildren to go. And ultimately at this moment in time it's not safe."

Mr Bailey said the "staggering increase" of indecent images of children on the child abuse image database - up from 7,000  in 1990 to 17 million was fuelled because of the ease of taking and sharing pictures from smartphones.

He said online grooming has gone up during Covid-19 lockdowns, with youngsters spending more time on their computers being targeted by paedophiles.

And he said figures which showed 44pc of new indecent images are taken and uploaded by children themselves as "frightening".

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He said: "I could describe to you some of the most horrific videos where you can see a child that's been groomed, abusing themselves within their own bedroom and you can hear their mother calling up and recorded on the video, 'darling, dinner's nearly ready."

He added: "Until such time as the companies that facilitate the uploading, the sharing, the viewing of images, the ability to go online and groom a child, until such time as they put in place the right safeguards, despite our very best efforts and the very best efforts of the undercover community, we are never, ever going to be able to deal with the threat in the way we would wish to."

Mr Bailey was speaking ahead of the broadcast of the three-part documentary Undercover Police: Hunting Paedophiles, which airs on Channel 4 at 9pm on Monday.

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