Fifteen per cent of sexual offences against children in South Yorkshire have an “online element” – and police chief warns this is likely to rise

Fifteen per cent of sexual offences committed against children in South Yorkshire now have an “online element” – and a police chief warns this is likely to increase.

Friday, 13th May 2022, 7:52 pm

Chief Superintendent Sarah Poolman of South Yorkshire Police, said yesterday (May 12) that of approximately 2,000 offences committed in the 12 months to the end of April, just over 300 had “online elements”.

During a meeting of the PCC’s public accountability board, Chief Supt Poolman said: “Out of just over 2,000 offences, just over 300…15 per cent of the totality have an online element.

“Those are the numbers that our system tells us.

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Of approximately 2,000 offences committed in the 12 months to the end of April, just over 300 had "online elements".

“Clearly, that’s all subject to human fallibility around submission.

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“There has been a vast amount of work done over the last few years to ensure that officers are far more aware of getting those key words highlighted on our prime recording system, to enable us to understand where this crime type is taking place.

“We have made significant improvements using the online tag, but I wouldn’t say it’s perfect, but it gives us an indication – so 15 per cent is where we’re sitting right now.

“I would suggest that it’s higher – and I would suggest in the future that it’s only going to rise, because as we know, technology, young people [are] engaging more and more so, they’ve obviously had…. covid, that period where young people have not been able to socialise and have been doing it all virtually and that’s become the norm.

“It was already pretty much the norm, but it’s become even more so since covid, so anticipation that will rise, and for us to be able to recognise and demonstrate that shows that we’re using that tag appropriately.”

A report to Dr Billings states that since child matters training was rolled out across the force, crime recording for child neglect crimes has increased by 174 per cent.

The training, which has been delivered to 4,500 officers, staff and external partners since its inception in September 2021, is a collaboration between the NSPCC and South Yorkshire Police, which trains police officers and call handlers to identify and intervene in cases of child neglect.