THE number of people in the North Wales seeking help to stop looking at sexual images of children has risen by 65 percent in six months.

The dramatic increase in people approaching Stop it Now!- a child sexual abuse prevention project organised by charity The Lucy Faithfull Foundation - follows a major public awareness campaign launched in January this year.

Between July 2017 and January 2018, 84 people from across North Wales contacted the project's helpline and website, seeking help for their own online sexual behaviour, or on behalf of someone they knew. In the following six month period that figure had leapt to 139 - an increase of 65 percent.

However, the campaign, which also covers the North West, saw even steeper increases in Lancashire, Cheshire and Cumbria of 146 percent, 193 percent and 186 percent.

Director of the Stop it Now! Helpline, Donald Findlater, said: “We are delighted with the success of the campaign so far, with nearly 600 people from the North-West seeking help with online sexual behaviour towards children every month.

“Mostly these will be men seeking help to manage their own behaviour in viewing sexual images of children. But a growing number of other adults – wives, partners and parents – are getting in contact because of concerns about the online sexual behaviour of someone they love.

“The Stop it Now! Helpline offers them a confidential place to get help so their illegal online behaviour stops and stays stopped. Getting help takes just a phone call.”

The campaign was supported by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit and police forces in Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire and Cumbria, as well as North Wales Police.

Assistant Chief Constable Alan Barr, North West Regional Lead for Serious and Organised Crime, said: “The problem of viewing indecent images of children online has grown exponentially in recent years. Technological advancements, increased accessibility, and the presumption of anonymity have all led to more and more people viewing and sharing illegal images.

“Every time a sexual image of a child is viewed, that child is re-victimised and further demand is created.

“It is vital, therefore, that we work closely with partners and use all available resources to protect children and, wherever possible, prevent offending."