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First ever South West 'child protection' summit

A major child safeguarding conference takes place today, organised by the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit.

Police forces from across the region will be at the event in Taunton, along with staff from public agencies and schools.

They'll be looking to create strategies to stop people viewing and sharing explicit images online, working with The Lucy Faithfull Foundation.

The conference will be chaired by the Assistant Chief Constable for the South West Police Collaboration, Damian Kearney. 

Delegates will also receive presentations from a range of perspectives including  a police officer working in a specialist unit arresting online offenders, a specialist working with child victims of online offending and a specialist on the impact on children when their father is arrested for accessing indecent images of children. 

Delegates will also see video footage of an offender describing his path into offending, and his work with The Lucy Faithfull Foundation to address his online behaviour. 

Another video will show a woman describing the impact of discovering that her husband had been looking at sexualised images of children for many years. 
 
Five police forces across the South West launched a joint public campaign in February 2018 to tackle demand for child abuse images.
 
Over 100,000 individuals from across the UK are regularly accessing indecent images of children (IIOC) online, according to National Police Chiefs’ Council lead on Child Protection, Simon Bailey.
 
In 2017 2,301 people from the South West visited the charity’s online self-help resources or called the confidential helpline to get help with their own viewing of sexually explicit images of children, or that of a loved one.
 
Temporary Assistant Chief Constable for the South West Police Collaboration, Damian Kearney, said: "With an estimated 100,000 people in the UK regularly viewing online sexual images of children, it’s clear that we cannot arrest our way out of this situation. 

Click play to hear ACC Kearney speaking to reporter Matt Dixon

 
"The Lucy Faithfull Foundation carries out vital work to prevent children from being sexually abused. Today’s conference is about improving our region’s approaches to prevention and rehabilitation which, due to the scale of the problem, have to work alongside enforcement as part of the solution."
 
And Donald Findlater, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Expert and Safeguarding Consultant at The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, commented: "The viewing of sexual images of children is a massive problem across the UK. It is exciting to be joining with colleagues from a host of organisations from across the South West to explore the problem from all perspectives and, vitally, to create solutions that prevent this illegal behaviour. 

"The police need all our support to tackle this crime. If we all play our parts – the public included - then expert police resources can focus on the most dangerous offenders, to ensure they are brought to justice and children are protected. 

"Those who are viewing and sharing sexual images of under 18s need to recognise that their behaviour is illegal, that it harms children, and that there are grave consequences for them if they get caught. And the chances of getting caught are increasing. Confidential help to stop viewing sexual images of children is available for them and for their families – contact Stop it Now! today on 0808 1000 900 or at www.stopitnow.org.uk"

Click play to hear  Donald Findlater, Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Expert and Safeguarding Consultant at The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, speaking to reporter Matt Dixon

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