CHILD grooming offences in North Yorkshire have risen by more than 50 per cent in the last year, according to new data.

A Freedom of Information Request by the NSPCC has revealed that between April 2018 and April 2019, 22 grooming offences were recorded by North Yorkshire Police.

In the same period the year before, the force recorded just 14 cases of child grooming. Over the two year period, grooming offences recorded rose by 57 per cent.

The FOI revealed that five of the grooming incidents involved contact through Facebook, while two cases involved Instagram and three Snapchat.

However, grooming cases in North Yorkshire only accounted for five per cent of all cases throughout the Yorkshire and Humber region over the last two years.

Across the Yorkshire and The Humber area, child grooming offences soared by 59 per cent in the last year.

There were 473 offences of sexual communication with a child recorded in the year to April 2019 compared with 297 in the previous year.

Overall, in the last two years, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Snapchat were used in nearly 75 per cent of all the cases in Yorkshire and Humber in which police recorded and revealed the communication method.

Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said: “The Government needs to get tough on these tech firms.

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

Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, of North Yorkshire Police, said: “There has been an increased reporting of sexual grooming communication with a child but the number of offences in North Yorkshire is low.

"It is highly likely there are many victims who have not yet come forward to the police or partner agencies.

“North Yorkshire Police supports the NSPCC’s campaign and Government proposals to regulate social networks, and to strengthen their co-operation to help our Online Abuse Team and Digital Forensics Unit to bring offenders to justice.”