The head of Hampshire Constabulary’s Internet Child Abuse Team has warned those considering exploiting children online that they will ‘face the consequences’.
Detective Superintendent Justin Torgout has also encouraged parents and carers to continue having conversations with their children about their online activity.
Last month, Hampshire Constabulary executed 18 warrants following reports of online abuse, arresting 15 people.
Det Supt Torgout is also urging people who are concerned about their own online activity to seek help from one of a number of charities, who work to stop behaviours from escalating and protect children.
He said: “There are so many different methods for children to keep in contact with each other now and, particularly given the lack of face-to-face contact they have had with their friends in recent weeks, it’s understandable that they would want to make use of social media sites and online platforms.
“However, these methods of communication are also being used by people who wish to take advantage of children.
“It’s so important that parents continue to have discussions with their children about their activity online and are watching for any changes in behaviour which may be concerning to them.
“You know your child better than anyone, and you will know when something is not right or their behaviour has changed.
“Perhaps they have become very secretive with, or protective of, the devices they use or their social media. Or maybe they are more withdrawn or distracted than they have previously been.
“The nation is experiencing a vastly different and unprecedented period, but our response to this type of distressing crime has not changed.
“We are still here and we want to help. I want people to know they can come to us if they have concerns, or that they can contact charities such as the NSPCC.
“And if you try to exploit a child online, you will face the consequences.”
He added: “There are a number of organisations which work with those concerned about their own behaviours, such as Stop it Now!, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation and the NSPCC.
“I would urge you, if you are concerned about your own online activity or that of someone you know, to contact them now. Otherwise, we will find you and we will take robust action.”