Surge in helpline calls for support to stop viewing indecent images
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015
An anonymous service for people seeking help to stop viewing indecent images of children has reported an almost three-fold increase in users from Suffolk.
The Stop it Now! helpline revealed that 1,068 people from Suffolk made contact last year, compared to 362 in 2018.
A surge in callers and website visitors followed the charity's recent campaigns to tackle online viewing of indecent images.
Calls with trained advisors remain confidential, unless identifying details are given and a child is at risk of harm, or a crime has been committed.
Adult family and friends can also get support for concerns about someone's behaviour.
The charity is promoting two new online films, highlighting the building anxiety and fear of being exposed, to raise awareness of the issue of online offending and encourage people who view images online, or are at risk of doing so, to seek help.
The helpline, run by child protection charity, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, opened in 2002 and has since been contacted by more than 46,000 people, including more than 5,000 in the last year.
Since 2015, more than 188,000 people in the UK have used the self-help website.
Donald Findlater, director of the Stop It Now! helpline, said a significant proportion of teenagers were among those viewing indecent images online.
He said many start viewing material as part of an adult pornography habit, while others are struggling with a long-standing sexual interest in children.
"Whoever they are, they need to know this behaviour is illegal; that children are harmed by it, that serious consequences await those involved in it, but that our helpline and website give anonymous, confidential support and advice to stop and stay stopped," he added.
Simon Bailey, Norfolk Chief Constable and National Police Chiefs' Council lead on child protection, said the tools for investigating and tracking down those responsible are the best they have ever been, adding: "Accessing these images is not a victimless crime and viewing them creates more demand for these appalling offences.
"The consequences of being caught are huge and include losing your job, your family life, being imprisoned and registered as a sex offender."
If you are concerned about your own, or someone else's behaviour, visit stopitnow.org.uk or call the helpline on 0808 1000 900.