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Cheshire Police are among the forces to team up with a charity to tackle the demand for sexual images of children.

The Lucy Faithfull Foundation say that demand for such images is sadly growing.

The charity works to prevent people from viewing such illegal material in the first place; and to get them to stop if they have already started.

In 2013 the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) estimated that as many as 50,000 individuals in the UK were involved in downloading or sharing sexual images of children.

The joint initiative, which involves all the police forces in the North West, aims to raise awareness, educate offenders and highlight police activity on the issue.

Detective Inspector Stuart York of Cheshire’s Public Protection Unit said:

“It is wrong to think that viewing sexual images of children in the privacy of the home is not harming anybody in the sense that the viewer is not physically touching anyone. Viewing, sharing or distributing sexual images of children is child abuse, behind every image is a victim. Viewing images is child abuse and, by engaging in criminal activity, this encourages others to commit child abuse.

“Safeguarding and protecting children from sexual abuse is a priority for the Constabulary. We are committed to seeking out individuals who abuse children through online activity, to bring them to justice and hold them to account for their actions.

“I would urge anyone who is worried about their internet viewing habits to seek help from the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, who can provide advice and intervention work to help people manage their thoughts and behaviour, and to help them to live responsible, fulfilling and law abiding lives.”

Donald Findlater, child sexual abuse prevention expert and spokesperson for The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, said:

“Too many people, especially men across all age groups, seem to think it is okay to view sexual images of under 18s online. It is not. Not only is it illegal, it also causes great harm – primarily to the children in the images – but also to the offenders themselves.”

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