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DUP Policing Board member Joanne Bunting has said that figures received in a briefing today from the Director General of the National Crime Agency are a sobering reminder of the need to safeguard children.

During the briefing it was revealed that estimates suggest between 550,000 and 850,000 adults in the UK have a sexual interest in children.

The East Belfast MLA said, “The figures and details provided by Dame Lynn Owens are a very sobering reminder of the potential threat to children. This is an issue I have discussed with the Chief Constable previously in relation to safeguarding children who are at risk. Unfortunately we know that efforts in this are really only scratching the surface given the number of potential offenders there are. It is also chilling to hear from the NCA Director General that the geographic location of the offender doesn’t have any impact. Given the online world with which we are now familiar, the threat can come from any location.

Whilst these figures are horrifying it is vital that parents and guardians have the knowledge of how to best help protect children both online and offline. The NCA-CEOP website “Thinkuknow” is a hugely important resource which provides age-appropriate information for both children, young people and parents or carers.

As well as information on helping to keep children safe there are tools to help anyone with a concern about their child and how to report an incident. Whilst the details of the NCA assessment are absolutely horrifying in terms of the numbers they have assessed it is vital we do everything possible to keep children safe.”