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Child grooming crimes in West Midlands more than double in last year.

Byline: PAUL COLE Print Editor paul.cole@reachplc.com

A SCHOOLGIRL aged just 12 was bombarded with sex message and videos on her Instagram account.

Freya, whose name has been changed for her own protection, was staying at a friend's house at the time.

Out of the blue, a stranger started flooding her social media with sickening sexual content.

Her mum Pippa told the NSPCC: "She was quiet and seemed on edge when she came home the next day.

"I noticed her shaking and knew there was something wrong so encouraged her to tell me what the problem was.

"When she showed me the messages, I just felt sick. It was such a violation and he was so persistent. "He knew she was 12, but he kept bombarding her with texts and explicit videos and images.

"Freya didn't even understand what she was looking at. There were pages and pages of messages - he just didn't give up.

"Our children should be safe in their bedrooms, but they're not. They should be safe from messages from strangers if their accounts are on private, but they're not."

The case was revealed today as NSPCC chiefs revealed that grooming crimes probed by police in the West Midlands have more than doubled in the last year.

There were 62 offences of sexual communication with a child recorded in the year to April 2019 compared with 25 in the previous year, in the region.

Top among accounts targeted was Instagram, followed by Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Snapchat. Across the whole of England and Wales there were 4,373 offences of sexual communication with a child in the year to April 2019 compared with 3,217 in the previous year.

The offence came into force on April 3, 2017, following an NSPCC campaign.

"It's now clearer than ever that Government has no time to lose in getting tough on these tech firms," said Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive.

"Despite the huge amount of pressure that social networks have come under to put basic protections in place, children are being groomed and abused on their platforms every single day. These figures are yet more evidence that social networks simply won't act unless they are forced to by law. The Government needs to stand firm and bring in regulation without delay."

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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Sep 11, 2019
Words:383
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