Commenting after meeting with the NCA Director General, Graeme Biggar, during a session of the Policing Board on Thursday, Mr Buckley said:
‘‘That there may be up to 23,000 individuals deemed a sexual risk to children living in Northern Ireland is deeply disturbing. As the Chief Constable has indicated it is equivalent to the population of a large town.
This figure reflects previous research that crime is increasingly becoming more violent and harmful, with children and other vulnerable groups increasingly the target. On average, five children in our Province are targeted by sexual offenders online every week. Sadly, children are often at higher risk when at home, on a computer or using a mobile device, than when they are on our streets.
It is critical that the full machinery of our criminal justice system is invested in stopping abusers. The welfare of children and young people must be front and centre. The PSNI and NCA require appropriate and sustained resources in order to detect, disrupt and prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation in all forms.
We want to see our Departments working hand in glove with the NCA to raise awareness and equip children and parents with the knowledge and tools to stop abusers.”