ONLINE child sex offences have rocketed by more than 30 per cent in the last year.

North Yorkshire Police recorded 151 offences between 2019 and 2020 - an increase of 34 per cent since 2018 and 54 per cent since 2015.

Andy Burrows, the NSPCC's head of child safety online policy, said the latest figures suggest online abuse has increased before and during lockdown, adding: “Risks to children appear to have spiked significantly.”

The charity is calling on the Government to publish its final plans before the end of the year and get an Online Harms Bill on the statute book by the end of 2021.

Meanwhile, police forces across all of Yorkshire logged a combined increase in online child sex offences of 141 per cent, from 729 offences in 2015/16 to 1,758 in 2019/20.

Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, head of safeguarding for North Yorkshire Police, said: “North Yorkshire Police and our community partners have made significant progress in recent years to enhance every facet of safeguarding children in North Yorkshire and the City of York.

“This has included the development of North Yorkshire Police’s specialist Online Abuse & Exploitation Team and the Digital Forensics Unit, who are proving their effectiveness on a daily basis to identify and support victims and bring offenders to justice.

“An important aspect of this work has involved the active promotion of support and reporting services such as the NSPCC and Childline in particular.

“It is therefore heartening to see that the direct contribution of North Yorkshire Police and our partners has helped more victims to have the confidence to come forward.

“As ever, if you are a victim of sexual abuse or you know someone who is, our message is please don’t suffer in silence. We are here to help you every step of the way.”

Mr Burrows added: “The Prime Minister signalled he was determined to act on this issue.

"That’s why he needs to prioritise making progress on a comprehensive Online Harms Bill this Autumn and pass legislation by the end of 2021.

“The bill will help see tech firms held criminally and financially accountable if they put children at risk.”