Police encouraged by results of child abuse prevention campaign

15 December 2017, 07:06 | Updated: 15 December 2017, 10:32

Online groomer child abuser

A campaign to help people stop themselves or others from viewing sexual images of children online has seen a rise in use in Scotland.

Stop it Now! Scotland said its website had 953 visits from people in Scotland in the three months from June, up from 556 in the previous three months.

There has also been an increase in the number of people from Scotland calling the Stop it Now! Helpline, up from 30 to 55 over the same period.

Stop it Now! is a child sexual abuse prevention project run by child protection charity, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation with support from police, health professionals and academics.

The campaign aims to prevent child sexual abuse by increasing public awareness and encouraging potential abusers to seek help.

Charity leaders put the increase in contacts down to an awareness raising campaign over the summer.

Project national manager Stuart Allardyce said: "Stop it Now! Scotland is determined to protect children from abuse and the devastating impact of having their image repeatedly shared across the internet.

"The best way to do this is to deter people from looking at these images in the first place, and to get those who are looking to stop.

"What our campaign shows is that you when you make people aware that help is available to stop, people will take up that offer of help.

"We work with many men arrested after downloading huge numbers of abusive images of children.

"Many of them say they would have been unlikely to have become so addicted if they had known sooner about the help that's available to stop.

"So I'd urge anyone out there worried about what they are looking at online to get in touch via the Stop it Now! Get Help website, or via our confidential Helpline on 0808 1000 900."

DCI Martin MacLean of Police Scotland's Public Protection Unit, said: "The results of this preventative campaign are very encouraging, demonstrating that offenders or potential offenders do want help to stop.

"Our campaign has proved to be very effective in promoting the awareness of support services such as Stop It Now! Scotland and its Get Help website.

"Every time a sexual image of a child is viewed, that child is re-victimised and further demand is created for indecent images.

"It is therefore vital that we work closely with partners and use all available resources to protect children and, wherever possible, prevent offending.

"Enforcement remains a priority for specialist Police Scotland detectives at both local and national levels.

"Being arrested, charged and convicted is life-changing for offenders and their families.

"Anyone having inappropriate thoughts about children needs to seek help, or should expect to face serious consequences."