THERE has been a 68 per cent rise in the number of child grooming offences recorded in Hampshire.
Home Office figures show 57 offences were reported in the year to June this year, up significantly from 34 during the previous 12 months.
The NSPCC has called for ‘urgent action’ after the latest figures were released.
Nationally there were 1,771 grooming offences recorded in 2016/17 – up 64 per cent from 1,080 in the previous year.
NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: ‘This is an enormous rise in recorded grooming offences over such a short period, and the fact that records of grooming offences have increased substantially more than most other crimes shows the need for urgent action.
‘More young people are speaking up about sexual grooming, and it’s vital that now more than ever police are given the training and the resources to tackle this issue.’
In April a new offence came into force making it illegal to send a sexual message to a child.
It follows the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law campaign, started after the government first decided the law was not necessary.
Mr Wanless added: ‘Groomers need to be stopped before they go to meet their victim, and following the NSPCC’s Flaw in the Law campaign police now have the tools they need to intervene before abuse escalates.
‘We all have a part to play in keeping children safe online.’
Young people affected by grooming can contact Childline on 0800 11 11.