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  1. ITV Report

50 percent more people seeking help to stop viewing sexual images of children online

There has been a fifty percent increase in the number of people from Wales seeking help to stop looking at sexual images of children online.

2,000 devices were seized during Operation NetSafe. Credit: PA images

South Wales Police released the figures after a pan-Wales operation has resulted in an increase in arrests of people looking at sexual images of children online.

486
The operation resulted in 486 warrants being executed.
339
339 arrests were made as part of the operation.
2,000
2,000 devices were seized during Operation NetSafe.

Operation NetSafe has involved specialist teams from South Wales Police, Gwent Police, Dyfed-Powys Police and North Wales Police working together to deal with, and reduce, the threat, risk and harm posed by online child sexual exploitation and abuse.

Protecting vulnerable people of all ages is our number one priority, and Operation NetSafe has safeguarded dozens of children, many of whom have suffered the most appalling sexual abuse.

Despite some successes, we still have much to do. We are aware that some offenders continue to convince themselves that they are not committing an offence or harming a young person because they do not have direct contact with the child or children in the images.

However, those in possession and distributing child abuse images should be under no illusion that they are helping to create a market for these images and as a result helping perpetrate the abuse.

– Jon Drake, All Wales Lead for Child Sexual Exploitation

It was run in partnership with child protection charity, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, the operation has also resulted in an increase in the number of people seeking confidential help from the charity to stop accessing these damaging and illegal images.

Alongside police activity in Wales arresting more and more offenders, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation has been working over these last two years to develop its own response and resources to tackle this growing problem.

Whether arrested or not, we want those offending to stop their illegal online behaviour; and to stay stopped.

Our specialist staff have helped thousands to do this over recent years.

We have also helped thousands more family members come to terms with the fact that someone they know and love has engaged in this behaviour and get help to tackle the problem

– Donald Findlater, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation

Children's charity the NSPCC says the increasing number of people being caught with these images highlights it as a serious problem which must be addressed.

Prevention is of the utmost importance and we welcome the work organisations like the Lucy Faithfull Foundation carry out with offenders and potential offenders, as well as the police focus on this issue.

But the war against this vile online material is only just beginning. It must be made more difficult to access and view indecent images of children and the NSPCC is calling for more action from government, law enforcement and internet providers to prevent them being published and circulated online.

– Spokesperson, NSPCC Cymru