MORE than 240 sex crimes recorded against children in Hampshire were committed online last year.

The NSPCC has warned that tech companies are enabling the crimes by failing to design their sites with children’s safety in mind.

A freedom of information request by the charity revealed that 247 grooming and online offences involving a victim under-18 were recorded by Hampshire Constabulary in


This was an 89% increase from the previous year, and meant 7% of all sex crimes recorded against children by the force were online.

In 2018-19, 3% of child sex crimes in Hampshire had an online element.

The recorded crime figures include sexual assault and activity, gross indecency with, and grooming of children, as well as crimes of abuse of children through prostitution and pornography.

Rape of children aged under 16 is also included.

The number of online sex crimes against children across England and Wales topped 10,000 in 2019-20 - the 10,058 recorded was a 17% rise on the previous year.

The Home Office said around 700 people were being arrested across the country each month.

The Government says its Online Harms White Paper sets out plans for world-leading legislation to keep children safe online.

Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, said: “The Government have a pivotal opportunity to change this in the coming weeks in their response to the Online Harms White


“By setting out bold and ambitious legislation that puts a duty of care on tech companies to protect children online, and giving a regulator the power to enforce this with financial and criminal sanctions, they can set a global precedent for preventing avoidable harm.”

A Home Office spokesman said: “Tackling online child abuse is a priority and we are working at pace to develop legislation to make the UK the safest place in the world to be online.