The National Crime Agency has warned 300,000 paedophiles are “plotting” how to groom more child victims online.
It comes as children spend more time alone online amid the government‘s lockdown.
Top officers have said more than a quarter of a million sex offenders now pose a “sexual threat” to the nation’s children.
The NCA released new figures revealing the extent of the problem in Britain. And it warned of a spike in offending during the pandemic.
With schools closed and children increasingly online to do school work or occupy themselves while parents are busy, kids face an increased threat from offenders.
And their numbers online are growing.
The NCA and the police usually arrest over 500 child sex offenders and safeguard 700 children each month.
But they have warned these numbers are set to rise.
Chief Constable Simon Bailey said: “It is sickening to think some criminals are looking to exploit the coronavirus crisis to cause harm online.”
He added: “Despite the issues the pandemic will cause for law enforcement, child protection is still a priority and we remain totally committed to keeping our young people safe.”
Simon continued: “Child sexual abuse remains a priority threat for the agency at this difficult time. Although we are working around the virus like everyone else, we are continuing to pursue high-risk online offenders to ensure they are arrested and children are safeguarded.”
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He added that preventing offences occurring is “always crucial” but “more so now than ever”.
Some criminals are looking to exploit the coronavirus crisis to cause harm online.
He said there is currently “masses of online traffic and a possible elevated threat to children”.
The police chief concluded: “We are redoubling our efforts to promote our online safety messages to children, parents, carers and teachers and are working with partners to keep children safe.”
As a result of the increased risk, a new initiative, #OnlineSafetyAtHome, has been launched.
It will provide 15-minute activities to parents and carers to do with their children to educate them about safeguarding.
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