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Offences against Children: Social Media

Question for Home Office

UIN 184990, tabled on 29 October 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the steps that social networks have taken to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation since his 3 September 2018 speech Keeping children safe online.

Answered on

6 November 2018

In September, the Home Secretary announced an extra £21.5m investment in law enforcement over the next 18 months to reduce the volume of offending and pursue the most hardened and dangerous abusers. The majority of this funding will go to UK law enforcement and intelligence agencies to tackle the most determined and dedicated abusers.

Due to the sensitive nature of this work and the policy of successive Governments, the spending of the intelligence agencies’ activities cannot be revealed, but some of the law enforcement funding will expand the Joint Operations Team (a jointly managed National Crime Agency (NCA) and GCHQ capability), increase funding for the Regional Organised Crime Units and improve digital forensic capability.

The National Crime Agency’s National Strategic Assessment 2018 has assessed the risk that anonymisation tools, including the use of the dark web, pose to children online. It states that fast, ‘secure’ and anonymous operating environments will enable all levels of criminality. The full document can be found here:

Online Offenders often move between the open and dark web. For this reason, statistics held on online CSEA are not broken down into where the offences are committed.

The National Crime Agency’s National Strategic Assessment for 2018 has assessed that livestreaming is a growing threat. In his speech at the NSPCC on the 3 September, the Home Secretary highlighted awareness of this risk to children due to improving technology and the growing ease of money transfers across borders.

The Home Secretary stated that he expects a more effective partnership between technology companies, law enforcement, the charity sector and Government. Therefore, the Home Office will be making £250,000 available to support new ideas on how to detect and disrupt the live-streaming of abuse.

In November, the Home Secretary will be visiting US based social networks and other technology companies to discuss progress on steps to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation online, including the development of a tool to detect online child grooming.

Answered by

Home Office