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National Policing Lead for Child Protection, responds to Ofcom online safety proposals

Ian Critchley QPM, National Policing Lead for Child Protection, responds to Ofcom online safety proposals.

“I believe the Online Safety Act is the most important piece of legislation for a whole generation of young children. We all have a crucial role to play in keeping children safe and all of us in law enforcement, policing, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and our partners, are rigorously pursuing those offenders who commit some of the most appalling acts of abuse against children. In the last year we safeguarded over 14,000 children and arrested 11,000 offenders. Our undercover officers arrested over 1,400 offenders who were seeking to groom young people online.

“Schools and education providers play a pivotal role in helping young people keep safe and last week the NCA shared an alert in relation to the growing risks of sextortion. Its of the utmost importance that parents and carers have regular conversations to enable young people to speak about what they are encountering online. Having navigated my three children through the online world, I know how difficult but essential this is.

“However, it is disgraceful that the companies who create the platforms and communities, creating great wealth from them, fail to protect children from abuse and harmful content. Whilst I welcome the release today of the Ofcom draft codes for keeping children safe, it should not require this legislation for the companies to fulfil their moral obligations to protect children. At the earliest opportunity it is essential that effective and rigorous age verification is implemented. Tech companies, through pre-screening, must prevent the uploading and sharing of indecent images online, often extorted by criminals across the globe, which has caused so much harm and in the most tragic cases the deaths of young people. It is also not good enough that tech companies move to encrypted platforms without being able to demonstrate how they will identify harmful content and child sexual abuse material being shared online. Swift and effective implementation of the Act and these codes, alongside the work we continue to do through law enforcement, will make the difference that all families and children, especially those who have suffered such tragic loss, deserve.”

For more information visit OFCOM news

Proposed codes at a glance