GROOMING crimes recorded by police in Yorkshire have increased by 59 per cent in the last year, according to new research from the NSPCC.

Regionally, there were 473 offences of sexual communication with a child recorded in the year to April 2019 compared with 297 last year.

Across England and Wales in 2018/19 there were 4,373 offences of sexual communication with a child recorded - more than 1,100 offences than the previous year.

The data obtained from 43 police forces in England and Wales under Freedom of Information laws also revealed that, where age was provided, one in five victims were aged just 11 or younger.

Earlier this year, nine men were found guilty of a range of sexual offences after a seven-week trial at Bradford Crown Court and jailed for a total of 132 years.


The men were sent to prison after they were convicted of a total of 21 offences involving the grooming, rape and sexual exploitation of two vulnerable Bradford girls.

Detectives described them as "predatory sex offenders who targeted two vulnerable children and abused them physically and emotionally."

They said the crimes had "undoubtedly had a significant impact" on both of the girls.

The Government has indicated it will publish a draft Online Harms Bill early next year, following the NSPCC’s Wild West Web campaign. The proposals would introduce independent regulation of social networks, with tough sanctions if they fail to keep children safe on their platforms.

This comes after the NSPCC's figures also showed that in the last financial year, the number of recorded instances of the use of Instagram was more than double that of the previous year.

Overall in the last two years, Facebook-owned apps and Snapchat were used in nearly 75 per cent of the instances where police in Yorkshire recorded and provided the communication method.

The NSPCC says it is crucial the Government makes a public commitment to draw up the Online Harms laws and implement robust regulation for tech firms.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “It’s now clearer than ever that Government has no time to lose in getting tough on these tech firms.

“Despite the huge amount of pressure that social networks have come under to put basic protections in place, children are being groomed and abused on their platforms every single day.

"These figures are yet more evidence that social networks simply won’t act unless they are forced to by law. The Government needs to stand firm and bring in regulation without delay."