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Hampshire Police warns online child abusers will face 'robust action'

The force is encouraging parents and carers to continue speaking to their children about their online activity during the pandemic.

It's due to the increased likelihood that young people are using social media more as a means of speaking to friends with the lack of face-to-face contact.

Hampshire Police, who arrested 15 people in connection with online abuse last month, said it's understandable children want to use social media and online platforms, but they are also being used by those who want to take advantage.

Detective Superintendent Justin Torgout said: "It's so important that parents continue to have discussions with their children about their activity online and are watching for any changes in behaviour which may be concerning to them.

"You know your child better than anyone, and you will know when something is not right or their behaviour has changed.

"Perhaps they have become very secretive with, or protective of, the devices they use or their social media. Or maybe they are more withdrawn or distracted than they have previously been.

"The nation is experiencing a vastly different and unprecedented period, but our response to this type of distressing crime has not changed.

"We are still here and we want to help. I want people to know they can come to us if they have concerns, or that they can contact charities such as the NSPCC. 

"And if you try to exploit a child online, you will face the consequences."

Det Supt Torgout also encouraged those who are concerned about their own behaviours, or someone they know, to contact organisations such as Stop it Now!, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation or the NSPCC

He warned: "Otherwise, we will take robust action."

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