GWENT Police recorded the highest number of cyber-related sex crimes in Wales last year, according to latest figures.

In Wales, 576 cyber-related sex crimes, including online grooming, sexual communication with a child, and rape, were recorded by police forces last year, according to information from an NSPCC Freedom of Information request.

This included 229 crimes logged by Gwent Police, followed by South Wales Police, which logged 214 offences and North Wales Police, which recorded 133 offences.

Dyfed-Powys Police were unable to respond to the FOI request so the true number of offences recorded in Wales will be higher.

The total number of offences recorded in Wales is significantly higher than the total of 458 recorded in 2017/18, and more than double the 258 offences recorded in 2015/16.


Chief Superintendent Marc Budden, head of Strategy, Performance and Change at Gwent Police, said: “Despite an increase in reports of cyber related sex crimes, we know that the numbers still do not reflect the lived experiences of the public.

“It is encouraging that more reports are being made.

“Whilst we are pleased that we have started to see people finding the confidence to tell us when they have been targeted, I would continue to encourage anyone who feels they have been a victim to report it and let us help you.

“You can call 999 in an emergency situation, report anything suspicious via 101, or message us via our Gwent Police Facebook or Twitter pages.

“You can also inform a teacher at school with regards to any concerns. Other online support is available, such as Crimestoppers or Childline.”

A Gwent Police spokesman said the force had invested in Cyber Crime to deal with online offences effectively.

He said: “In addition to our dedicated Cyber Crime Unit, frontline officers have been specially trained to assist with low-level investigation and provide advice.

“We know that incidents of this nature have been significantly under reported in the past, and we have worked hard in recent years to improve reporting and recording of sexually related cyber-crime, as well as investing in the support we provide to victims.

“Our schools liaison programme involves Police Officers visiting every school in Gwent, educating young people on the risks associated with online activity.

“This activity also helps parents become better informed and more aware.

"We also work with young people through engagement with youth groups and initiatives, giving them the confidence to report incidents.

“Meanwhile, the launch of the Force’s Social Media Desk in December has enabled us to engage with the public across digital platforms, and discuss concerns of an online nature very effectively.

“This has also allowed greater reporting of this type of crime.”

The NSPCC fears that the figures may not reveal the true extent of the problem due to potential under-recording of the role of online in these crimes and wide logging variation across forces.

Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “Behind each offence is a child suffering at the hands of sex offenders and, worryingly, we know these figures are the tip of the iceberg.

“Far too many children are drowning in a sea of online threats so it’s now time for the next prime minister, whoever he may be, to cast out the life jacket.

“He must hold his nerve and introduce an independent regulator to protect children from the risks of abuse and harmful content.”