Date lodged: 19 March 2018
To ask the Scottish Government what its response is to the finding in Recorded crime in Scotland: 2016-2017, which records that, of the 10,822 sexual crimes that were reported in 2016-17, 44% related to a victim under 18.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 16 April 2018
The National Statistics on police recorded crime demonstrate that where sexual crimes are reported to the police, victims are disproportionately likely to be under the age of 18. Furthermore Scottish Government research published in 2017 identified that certain types of sexual offending (communicating indecently or cause to view sexual activity or images) are much more likely to have younger victims when committed online than when the offender and victim are in the same location.
We have and will continue to take action to tackle the sexual abuse of children, including development of the Scottish Government's National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People. This was published in April 2017 and sets out a number of actions to improve internet safety. Its priorities include equipping children and young people to build their own personal resilience to stay safe online, supporting professionals and parents and carers and continuing to work with digital and social media providers to ensure children are not exposed to harm.
The Scottish Government also participates in the Executive Board of the UK Council for Child Internet safety and explore with social media providers how we can improve child internet safety in Scotland.
We have also invested in programmes that promote internet safety, including funding to Stop it Now Scotland! and to SACRO for their Challenging Harmful Online Images and Child Exploitation programme.
The Scottish Government established an expert group for preventing sexual offending involving children and young people and will bring together professional and academic expertise from across justice, education, child protection, health and the third sector to identify actions to better prevent sexual crime involving children and young people and mitigate the harm it causes. It will build on existing good work across Government and through partners.