There are an average of 22 cyber-related crimes recorded every day, figures from the NSPCC have revealed.
The statistics released by the children's charity show the extent to which children are being targeted online by sex offenders. NSPCC is calling on the next prime minister to prioritise online safety and introduce measures to protect children from these heinous crimes.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: "Worryingly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg.
"Far too many children are drowning in a sea of online threats so it's now time for the next Prime Minister, whoever he may be, to cast out the life jacket.
"He must hold his nerve and introduce an independent regulator to protect children from the risks of abuse and harmful content," he added.
The charity received responses from 40 out of 44 forces in England, Wales and Northern Ireland with data on cyber-related sex crimes against under 18s in 2018/19 including online grooming, sexual communication with a child and rape.
The data revealed:
- 8,224 child sexual offences logged by police in England, Wales and Northern Ireland had an online element.
- The number of crimes has doubled since since 2015/16, the first year the NSPCC collected this data, up from 4,042 offences.
The NSPCC is calling on Home Secretary Sajid Javid and Digital Secretary Jeremy Wright to stand up for children and introduce tough regulation for social networks including:
- an independent regulator who can put in place mandatory child safety rules for social networks.
- safe accounts for children.
- detailed reporting on how social networks are keeping children safe.
The charity's petition to keep children safe is online to help end the #WildWestWeb.