THE number of sex crimes against children in Gwent was down 44 per cent last year - but police have warned a significant number of cases may not have been reported.

A freedom of information request by the NSPCC revealed that 128 grooming and online offences involving a victim under-18 were recorded by Gwent Police in 2019-20.

This represented a 44 per cent decrease on the previous year. Of the sex crimes against children recorded by Gwent Police, 11 per cent were online.


In 2018-19, 21 per cent of child sex crimes in Gwent had an online element.

The recorded crime figures include sexual assault and activity, gross indecency with, and grooming of children, as well as crimes of abuse of children through prostitution and pornography. Rape of children aged under 16 is also included.

The charity has warned that tech companies are enabling the crimes by failing to design their sites with children's safety in mind.

Detective Chief Superintendent Nicky Brain said: “Despite the figures showing a decrease in reports of cyber related sexual crimes against children up to the end of March this year, we know that incidents of this nature have been significantly under reported in the past and that the numbers still do not reflect the lived experiences of the public.

“Since the health crisis more and more of us including children have been using social media and mobile apps to communicate.

“This type of crime has a significant impact on children, families and communities. Gwent Police is committed to supporting the safeguarding and welfare needs of children.

“We continue to invest in our cyber-crime staffing and capability including a Cyber Community Support Officer to assist with online safety advice which allows us to effectively deal with online offences. Officers and staff are trained to recognise the signs, respond quickly and investigate these crimes.

“Our schools liaison programme involves police officers visiting every school in Gwent to educate young people on the risks associated with online activity. We also work with young people through engagement with youth groups and initiatives, giving them the confidence to report incidents.

“We launched our Stop-Talk-Protect campaign this summer to educated children and their parents about the dangers that lurk online. This included online safety advice which was sent to all schools in Gwent, partner agencies and charities. Support was also provided to teachers to help them to talk to children about the important topic of online safety.

“I would encourage parents to talk to their children about how to stay safe online and I would also urge anyone who feels they have been a victim to report it.

“We are here to help. To make a report dial 101 for non-emergency matters or 999 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.”

Police and Crime Commissioner Jeff Cuthbert said: “Gwent Police visit every school in Gwent to educate children about the risks that exist online, however, it is crucial that parents and carers also talk to children about what they are doing on the internet and how they can stay safe.

“We know that this is a significantly underreported crime and I would urge anyone who has been a victim, or has information about an incident, to report it.”

Online safety advice and tips for parents is available at

Free, confidential advice for children and young people is available from Childline on 0800 1111.