Internet safety for children and young people: national action plan

Refreshed action plan on internet safety for children and young people to ensure appropriate training, support and information is in place.

Potential perpetrators are deterred from committing abuse online

Contributory outcomes

  • Potential perpetrators are able to self-identify problematic behaviour
  • Perpetrators, and potential perpetrators, are identified and disrupted early
  • Those who are at risk of perpetrating online child abuse are supported to change their behaviour
  • There is an improved ability to detect and prevent further abuse
  • Perpetrators are brought to justice

What we're already doing

As part of Police Scotland's Operation Lattise, the first national operation of focused activity to tackle the many forms of online child sexual abuse, over 500 children were identified as victims or potential victims of online child sexual abuse or other related abuse. Online child sexual abuse is a national threat - the reality is that it is happening now to children of all ages.

Stop it Now! Scotland is a national programme for the prevention of child sexual abuse, whose core services are funded through the Scottish Government's Section 10 Grant Funding Scheme (Direct Funding for the Voluntary Sector - Adult Community Care Scheme). They provide direct intervention to individuals in Scotland who are worried about their sexual thinking or behaviour, have recently been arrested or are a concerned family member.

Stop it Now! Scotland was funded by Survivor Scotland's Innovation and Development Fund to develop a 'toolkit' of practical materials which people can use whenever they identify concerns or worries that makes them think that a risk of child sexual abuse exists. The Children, Young People and Families Early Intervention Fund will provide further funding to Stop it Now! from April 2017 to further pilot and roll out their prevention toolkit. It will be available online to anyone registering to access it - including people providing general services locally as well as adult members of the public.

Stop it Now! Helpline aims to provide support for:

  • adult abusers and those at risk of abusing to encourage them to recognise their behaviour as abusive or potentially abusive and to seek help to change;
  • family and friends concerned about an adult displaying worrying sexual thoughts or behaviour towards a child to encourage them to recognise the signs of abusive behaviour in those close to them and to seek advice about what action to take;
  • parents/carers concerned about a child or young person with worrying sexual behaviour to encourage them to recognise the signs of concerning or abusive behaviour and to seek advice about what positive action they can take.

The Scottish Government are also funding Stop It Now! Scotland and Barnardo's Scotland through the Survivor Scotland Innovation and Development Fund to build local partnerships in order to identify and support children and young people who use the internet in a way that may be harmful to themselves or others.

The Scottish Government will be providing funding for Sacro for their Challenging Harmful Online Images & Child Exploitation ( CHOICE) programme. It is a programme suitable for those downloading illegal images of children from the internet where there is a low risk of sexual harm and the offences are 'non-contact' in nature. The service is aimed at males aged 18 and over, who may be considered suitable to be diverted from prosecution, or who are subject to a structured deferred sentence, community pay-back order or other community order or licence.

The programme aims to reduce the likelihood of an escalation to more serious offending and to reduce the likelihood of reoffending.

What we will do

20. The Scottish Government will engage with the University of Edinburgh, and Stop it Now! Scotland, as they undertake research on deterrents to viewing online indecent images of children.

The University of Edinburgh are currently undertaking a research project, funded by NSPCC, about deterrents to viewing online indecent images of children in partnership with Stop It Now! Scotland, Lucy Faithful Foundation, University of London and the CharitéUniversitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany. This research will help inform policy and practice in this area.

21. Police Scotland will develop a Standard Operating Procedure for online abuse.

The Standard Operating Procedure ( SOP) will develop and enhance the existing Indecent Images of Children SOP to include the wider aspect of online child sexual abuse and will encompass the threats and dangers access to the internet can provide. These include web cam extortion, possession and distribution of images, child sexual exploitation and online grooming.

Police Scotland will continue to treat online child abuse as a priority and ensure there is a continued and developing operational response into online offending following the implementation of Operation Latisse. The focus will be on the protection of those at risk of harm by means of prevention, early intervention through education and the robust investigation of those individuals identified as posing a risk to children online.

22. The Scottish Government will work closely with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service in the delivery of a summit on Sexual Offending and Young People in June 2017.

Following engagement with stakeholders, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service ( COPFS) will hold a summit on sexual offending and young people later in 2017.

The summit will assist in the prevention of future sexual offending involving children and young people as victims and offenders by:

  • Raising awareness amongst professionals of the involvement of children and young people in the criminal justice system in relation to sexual offending and some of the common issues arising in these cases;
  • Showcasing and signposting some of the positive prevention work and resources available;
  • Identifying gaps and potential solutions to improve the awareness of children and young people around the law relating to sexual offending.


Email: Jennifer Stenton

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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