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Attempts to access online child sexual abuse material spike in UK during COVID-19 lockdown

We missed this earlier: In April 2020, 8.8 million attempts across three internet service providers were made to access known child sexual abuse imagery in the UK, chief executive of the Internet Watch Foundation Susie Hargreaves revealed on May 20. She further said that there had been an 89% reduction in the number of webpages removed from the IWF’s URL list which means that webpages with child sexual abuse imagery stayed publicly available for a longer period. This URL list is maintained so that internet service providers can block access to pages with child sexual abuse imagery.

In early April, UK’s National Crime Agency had said that there were at least 300,000 people in the UK who posed a sexual threat to children. It also warned that the number of cases of online child sex offences would increase during the COVID-19 crisis.

Since then, the UK government has given the National Crime Agency £10 million (~₹93 crore) to tackle padeophiles on the dark web as part of its larger move to tackle child sexual exploitation, domestic abuse and modern slavery. This funding, announced on May 21, will be used to “de-anonymise and arrest more child sex offenders operating on the dark web”, NCA Director General Lynne Owens said. The NCA and UK police arrest more than 650 child sex offenders and safeguard 750 children every month.

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