Shocking new figures have revealed the growth of grooming crimes recorded by Thames Valley Police in the last year.

274 offences of sexual communication with a child where recorded in the year to April 2019, compared with 114 in the previous year.

In 2018/19 in England and Wales, the number of recorded instances of the use of Instagram was more than double that of the previous year.

Overall in the last two years, applications owned by Facebook (Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook itself) were used in 77 percent of instances where Thames Valley Police provided the communication method.

There were 128 offences recorded on Instagram last year, up from 22 the previous year.

Early next year, the Government has indicated they plan to publish an Online Harms Bill which would see the introduction of independent regulation of social networks.

The NSPCC have called on the government to make a public commitment to implement ‘robust regulations’ for technology firms to force them to protect children.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said: “It’s now clearer than ever that Government has no time to lose in getting tough on these tech firms.

“Despite the huge amount of pressure that social networks have come under to put basic protections in place, children are being groomed and abused on their platforms every single day.

“These figures are yet more evidence that social networks simply won’t act unless they are forced to by law. The Government needs to stand firm and bring in regulation without delay.”