ONLINE child sex offences recorded in Hampshire have rocketed by almost 90 per cent in the last year, new figures have revealed.

Figures released by the NSPCC have revealed that 247 of these crimes were recorded as having a cyber element in 2019/20, compared to 131 in 2018/19.

The figures have been described as "worrying" by county MPs who are urging parents to be aware of what their children are doing online.

Nationally the child protection charity has revealed 10,391 child sex crimes were recorded with a cyber flag by all UK forces in 2019/20 – a 16 per cent rise on the previous year.

That takes the total number of recorded offences in the five years since it became mandatory to record whether a crime involved the internet to more than 37,000.

In Hampshire, that figure stands at 714 online child sex crimes.

MP for Southampton Test Alan Whitehead said the figures from the child protection charity are "worrying".

He added: "I would urge parents to keep a very close eye of what children are up to particularly as they might be spending more time online due to the covid-19.

"There is also a role for big tech companies to do more to regulate age limits on social media."

Royston Smith, MP for Southampton Itchen, said the figures are "highly concerning".

“The Government plans to introduce new Online Harms legislation which aims to better protect young people online," he continued.

“I am confident that this new legislation will help to crack down on these despicable crimes against children.”

The NSPPC says that the figure highlights the urgent need for the Government to push forward with the Online Harms Bill, which would place a legal Duty of Care on tech firms to protect children, enforced by an independent regulator.

The NSPCC is calling on the Government to publish its final plans before the end of the year, and get an Online Harms Bill on the statute book by the end of 2021.

Andy Burrows, NSPCC Head of Child Safety Online Policy, said: “These figures suggest that online abuse was already rising before lockdown, and the risks to children appear to have spiked significantly since.

“It is now almost 17 months since the Government’s original proposals for social media regulation were published and children continue to face preventable harm online."