The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre has announced a large increase in the number of reports from concerned internet users over the last year.
The centre, whose ClickCEOP panic button has now been installed on social networking sites, said that it has recorded 6,291 reports this year, an increase of 16 per cent, or 880 reports on last year, the Press Association reports.
Of these reports, 135 were related to users making arrangements to meet a child offline, 434 on encouraging a child to perform a sexual act and 1,553 involved the online possession and distribution of images. Over 1,500 of the reports concerned the online grooming of children.
CEOP also said that there has been an increase in the number of self-taken explicit images posted online by children.
Outgoing CEOP chief executive Jim Gamble said: “The scale and nature of reports received by CEOP's child protection specialists demonstrate an ongoing need to educate and inform young people about the risk of posting inappropriate images of themselves online.”
“The fact that a quarter of our reports relate to grooming – and in particular the 135 reports of children who were contacted by offenders attempting to meet them offline – highlight the importance of CEOP's online safety programme, which has now reached more than 6 million children,” he added.