John Robertson is backing the charity’s Flaw in the Law campaign, which is calling on the UK Government to ensure it is always illegal for an adult to send a sexual message to a child.
The Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 makes this behaviour illegal in Scotland but there is no such legislation in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. This means sex abusers can often get away with effectively ‘fishing’ for child victims on social networks, mobile apps, chat rooms, and in online gaming environments.
Now, John is calling on the UK Government to ensure children in the rest of the UK receive the same protection from online sex abusers as children in Scotland.
John Robertson said: “It’s pleasing to know that Scotland has legislation in this area to help protect children but, given the alarming rise in online child abuse, it is very concerning that this is not the case across the whole of the UK. I urge the UK Government to listen to the NSPCC’s concerns and to create a new offence through the Serious Crime Bill so that it is always illegal for an adult to send a sexual message to a child”.
NSPCC Head of child safety online, Claire Lilley said: “We are very grateful to John for supporting the Flaw in the Law campaign. The law in Scotland gives police the tools they need to prosecute abusers who are using the internet to facilitate the abuse of children, but this isn’t the case for the rest of the UK where laws are fragmented and sex offenders are able to, and often do, exploit the loopholes”.
“The Serious Crime Bill currently going through Parliament provides a timely opportunity to learn from the law in Scotland and introduce a new offence in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to better protect children online, and we hope MPs and the public will back the campaign calling on the Government to do this”.
The NSPCC’s campaign comes as ChildLine, a service run by the NSPCC, saw a 168% increase in the number of children counselled about online sexual abuse last year.
People can find out more about the NSPCC campaign and sign the petition at www.nspcc.org.uk/flaw and join the debate on social media by following #FlawedLaw.
Anyone looking for advice about keeping children safe online, or concerned about the safety and welfare of a child, can contact the NSPCC’s 24-hour helpline on 0808 800 5000 or email email@example.com
Children worried about online safety or any other problem can call the free, 24-hour helpline on 0800 1111 or get help online at www.childline.org.uk