Urgent action needed on livestreamed child abuse - MP Sarah Champion

TECH companies and regulators must tackle the increasing scourge of livestreamed child abuse, Rotherham MP Sarah Champion told a Parliamentary discussion
ACTION CALL: Sarah ChampionACTION CALL: Sarah Champion
ACTION CALL: Sarah Champion

Ms Champion hosted Tuesday night’s roundtable event, held to discuss what could be done to tackle what has become an increasingly more common global crime.

MPs, the UK National Crime Agency, Ofcom, the Home Office and campaigners came together with the International Justice Mission UK and called for urgent action by tech companies, financial institutions, regulators and law enforcement to urgently improve prevention, detection and reporting of livestreamed sexual abuse of children around the world.

According to the UK National Crime Agency, the UK is the third largest global consumer of livestreamed abuse. Offenders in the UK are causing and inciting the sexual abuse of children in places such as the Philippines live online, paying as little as £15 to dictate what happens to the child in real time, facilitated by a local trafficker. These acts can include rape, sexual violence and, in extreme cases, bestiality.

Research recently released by NGO International Justice Mission and Nottingham Rights Lab, supported by the Philippine Survivor Network, estimated that 500,000 Filipino children - one in 100 - were trafficked to produce new child sexual abuse materials in 2022 alone, driven by western demand.

Campaigners also urged UK authorities to ensure that offenders who pay for and direct livestreamed sexual abuse are prosecuted using strong charges and receive prison sentences commensurate to the gravity of their harm.

Ms Champion said: “The disgusting crime of livestreamed child abuse is rising exponentially and it’s critical that action is taken now – tech companies, financial institutions and law enforcement all need to do more to proactively detect this abuse and protect children.

“I have spent my career advocating for the rights of children and survivors. This growing area of abuse requires urgent action from the government and regulators.

“Part of the problem is that police simply don’t have the capacity to address this horrendous crime which means across the planet vulnerable hundreds of thousands of children are being horrifically exploited. We cannot allow this to continue.”