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News Report Page 10 of 11
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Police figures reveal rise in online child sex crimes in 1st 6 months of lockdown compared with 2020

THE number of online sex crimes against children recorded by Police in the 6 months from the start of the 1st national lockdown increased by 17% on the previous year. NSPCC analysis of the latest Home Office offence data, released this week, reveals there were 17,699 online child sex offences recorded by Police in England and Wales between April and September 2020.

That's an increase from 15,183 during the same period in 2019, and includes:-

 More than 14,500 Obscene Publication (Child Sexual Abuse Images) offences; up almost a 5th on 2019.

 Nearly 3,200 Sexual Grooming crimes; an increase of 6% from the previous year!

Police forces in the North West (Cheshire, Greater Manchester, Lancashire and Merseyside), recorded increases in both obscene publication (child sexual abuse images) offences (up by 33% from 1,316 to 1,751), and sexual grooming offences (up 14% from 506 to 577), between the 1st 6 months of 2019/20 and the same period in 2020/21.

The NSPCC believe the stats show the heightened risk children have faced from child abusers online during the Pandemic, with Coronavirus resulting in significant online harms to children driven by a historic failure to make platforms safe.  They warned the Pandemic is fuelling long term changes to the online child abuse threat. High risk live streaming and video chat is becoming more popular amongst young people alongside a greater demand for sexual abuse images and increased opportunities for offenders to groom children. The charity said it shows the huge importance of the Government's upcoming Online Safety Bill, which will enforce a Duty of Care on tech firms, legally compelling them to do far more to protect children on their sites.

The figures come as the NSPCC calls on tech firms to halt dangerous design decisions that put children at even greater risk. For example, Facebook stopped scanning for child abuse images and grooming across Europe in December due to its interpretation of changes to EU legislation which allows proactive scanning using technology to combat child abuse. This is a clear break from the rest of the industry which committed to continue scanning until clarifying legislation can be agreed in in Brussels. The NSPCC labelled Facebook's decision a:- 'pretext to rolling out end to end encryption' across its messaging platforms. Since they stopped scanning there has been a 46% drop in reports about online child abuse in the EU.

Law enforcement agencies, child protection experts and the Home Office have long warned that end to end encryption without safeguards in place to protect children would seriously hamper efforts to tackle abuse and bring offenders to justice.  Andy Burrows, Head of Child Safety Online Policy said:- "It's clear that the Pandemic has increased the demand for child abuse images, and the grooming and sexual abuse of children that creates them. It's astonishing that at this time of heightened risk, instead of making every effort to combat these crimes, some tech firms seem to be paving the way for abuse to go unchecked with commercial decisions that trade off children's safety and put them at even greater risk. The Government's upcoming Online Safety Bill comes at a crucial time. It can lead to ground breaking protections for children if it gives the regulator the power and agility to hold tech firms accountable if their design choices make their platforms unsafe."

New NHS campaign urges people in Merseyside to talk to family and 'Leave them Certain' about organ donation

THE NHS is launching a new campaign to urge families in Merseyside to talk about organ donation following research that less than ½ of adults in England have had the conversation. The Leave Them Certain campaign aims to highlight the impact not knowing has on the families who are left behind and encourage people talk about their decision. It follows the law change in 2020. within England, which means that all adults are seen as willing to donate their organs, unless they opt out or are in 1 of the excluded groups. In Merseyside, 513,283 people are currently on the NHS Organ Donor Register, with 32 people becoming donors in the last year, but the NHS needs more people to talk with their families about their decision. Many still don't realise that families will still be approached before any donation goes ahead. As part of the campaign, a new TV advert launched this week featuring the Kakkad family. Shivum's father Bharat died from a cardiac arrest when he was 63 in May 2019, but the family had never spoken about organ donation. The advert features family footage and memories of Bharat, but ends with another memory; when they asked Shivum if his father wanted to be an organ donor and he just didn't know. Significantly, Shivum and his family did agree to organ donation, but it was a decision that could have been made easier if they'd had the conversation.  Shivum said:- "My father was a very giving person. He did charity work and was a strong believer in the Hindu act of Sewa, of service to God. When the specialist Nurse approached us about organ donation, we made our decision. We knew that helping others in need was what my father would have wanted. But I wish we had spoken about it to know for certain and I would urge others to take the opportunity while they still can."

Shivum hopes that by sharing their family's story, they will encourage more families, particularly from Asian and other ethnic backgrounds, to support and talk about organ donation. The numbers of donors are increasing, but more need to come forward as often the best transplant match will come from a donor of the same ethnicity. Bharat went on to help the lives of 2 other people. He donated a kidney to a woman in her 50's and a kidney to a man in his 60's. Research shows that the biggest barrier to talking about organ donation is that it's never come up in conversation with 34% of people stating this as their reason. 27% say they are worried it will upset their family or make them feel uncomfortable, 24% feel they don't need to tell anyone their decision, 22% don't want to talk about their own death, 22% say they haven't got round to it yet and 16% have never thought about organ donation before. Anthony Clarkson, Director of Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation for NHS Blood and Transplant, said:- "People often tell us that they struggle to find the right time or words to talk about organ donation, unfortunately we see 1st hand the impact not knowing has on families when the 1st time they consider their loved ones wishes around organ donation is when they are seriously ill or have already died. Talk to your friends, talk to your family. Even though the law has changed, you can still sign up to the NHS Organ Donor Register to provide your family with added reassurance. Please don't wait. Have the conversation today."

The NHS has some produced some tips and guidance to help start the conversation:-

 Start by checking in 1st:- 'how are you doing?' so you can gauge whether now is a good time. Choose a time when you're not too distracted or when you're sharing a space, or time with each other, maybe over a cup of tea or out walking.

 Perhaps there is something that prompts the conversation; passing a driving test, seeing our campaign TV advert, or an article in the paper.

 Open with:- 'did you hear' and not your own point of view; or use a hypothetical:- 'how would you feel if…'

 If faith is important to you, open with talking about what you know about your faith's beliefs on giving.

 Acknowledge it's a difficult subject and that you don't have to agree.

Find out more by visiting our dedicated pages at:- OrganDonation.NHS.UK on how to discuss your decision For more information on organ donation, and to register your decision, please visit:- OrganDonation.NHS.UK or call:- 03001232323.

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