Europol Warns: Cases of Online Child Abuse on the Rise during Pandemic

Society | December 28, 2020, Monday // 12:36|  views


The head of the EU's crime-fighting agency says perpetrators are spending more time online due to the various lockdowns across Europe. Catherine de Bolle called the development "an ongoing danger."

Cases of online child sex abuse are up this year owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the head of the EU's crime agency said on Monday.

Europol director Catherine De Bolle told Germany's Funke newspaper group that this development was "of a particularly great concern" because the spread of such material is "much greater now than before the pandemic."

"We are seeing a sharp increase in such online abuse. It is an ongoing danger," she said.

De Bolle said perpetrators often tried to contact children directly who were on the Internet longer than usual at home during the lockdown and were often not supervised.

Europol, which is headquartered in The Hague, the Netherlands, helps the 27 EU member states in their fight against terrorism, cybercrime, and other serious and organized forms of crime.

Crackdown in Germany

Earlier this month, investigators in Germany's most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) carried out a series of raids against people suspected of possessing and sharing child abuse footage and images.

Prosecutors targeted 56 suspects and authorities seized over 330 data storage devices.

In October, German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Cabinet agreed harsher jail terms for sexual violence against children, which would raise the maximum prison term to 15 years.

According to German crime statistics for 2019, there were 25,000 cases of child abuse and over 12,000 investigated cases of crimes related to exploitative images of children, marking a rise of 65% from 2018.


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Tags: Europol, child abuse, pandemic


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