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WATCH: Men call for help to stop illegal online behaviour

WATCH: Men call for help to stop illegal online behaviour

Published at 3:55pm 1st December 2016. (Updated at 4:02pm 1st December 2016)

More than 50 men from North and West Yorkshire have contacted a charity helpline in the last 12 months to help them deal with their attraction to sexual images of children.

The men called the confidential service operated by Stop it Now!, which is a sexual abuse prevention campaign run by child protection charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation.

It offers anonymous, effective support for those worried about their own or someone else's behaviour online.

The figures for people accessing help come at a time when police are reporting a national increase in online viewing and sharing of child abuse images.

In 2013, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) estimated that as many as 50,000 people in the UK were involved in downloading or sharing sexual images of children.

However, in a BBC TV interview in October this year, Chief Constable Simon Bailey, National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) Lead for Child Protection, said that at least 100,000 people are now regularly viewing indecent images online.

To help address this growing online threat, a major conference has discussed the latest developments in preventing online abuse of children.

Detective Superintendent Darren Minton, of West Yorkshire Police, said: "This is an excellent opportunity for key strategic partners to come together to focus on the digital world and how offenders are adapting their techniques to groom young people.

"By working together, we can help to make a real difference."

Donald Findlater, child sexual abuse prevention expert and founder of Stop it Now!, added: "Over the past 14 years, Stop it Now! has worked with thousands of sex offenders, including many men who had been arrested for viewing sexual images of under-18s online.

"We help them change their behaviour and get their lives back on a decent track. Most had not thought that others would ever find out - seeing their online lives as somehow separate from the real world. Few had considered the consequences of getting caught. Following arrest, their lives are often in turmoil.

"Imagine what it is like for a husband and father to have to tell his wife and children that he has been arrested for viewing sexual images of children online. To have to tell his Mum and Dad. Then having to tell his boss. And then his friends. Most have bitter regrets about the harm they have done to their families, to the victims in the images they viewed, and to themselves. But they also tell us they might never have stopped their illegal online behaviour if they'd not been caught.

"We need the tens of thousands of men still viewing these images today to realise that what they are doing is illegal and harmful and to make sure they stop. Here at Stop it Now!, we give them all the help we can - by phone and online. And it is confidential. If this is you, please make that call.

"But we also want to hear from wives, partners, parents who are worried about a loved one's sexual behaviour online. We must not turn a blind eye to this behaviour. Confidential help and support is available from Stop it Now!"

As part of the Stop it Now! campaign, a series of films have been produced to deter those who are already offending by making it clear that:

  • There are no grey areas - viewing or sharing a sexual image of someone under 18 is illegal.
  • This isn't a victimless crime - the experience is extremely harmful to the children involved.
  • The consequences can be devastating to the family, partners and friends of people who access sexual images of children, and may include arrest, loss of job, prosecution and becoming a registered sex offender.
  • There is confidential help to stop.

 

More information about the campaign at www.stopitnow.org.uk