Nearly one in 35 men could be a sexual risk to children, according to new research from the National Crime Agency (NCA).
The results suggest as many as 3 per cent of men could be a potential sex abuser or have an interest in online child porn, of which 250,000 men are “true paedophiles” who are attracted to pre-pubescent girls who are less than 12-years-old.
According to Phil Gormley, the deputy director of the NCA, a new approach is required to protect children from potential abusers. “If all we have is arrest and incarceration, that will not help them come forward,” he told the Mail on Sunday.
“Like most people I am shocked by the estimated number who have this interest. It tells us some unhealthy things about human nature.”
A report published by the NSPCC last week showed that the number of children at risk of all forms of abuse had increased by 80 per cent since 2002.
The NCA figures, which have been based on academic and other sources, suggested that between 1 and 3 per cent of men had paedophile tendencies.
Karen Bradley, the minister for preventing abuse and exploitation said that the report was a watershed moment and that society needed to look at the reality of what was going on.
MS Bradley wrote: “Victims and survivors of abuse are, more than ever before, feeling confident to report their experiences.
“We must all look unblinkingly at the reality. Raise our voices when we suspect a child is at rick and work together to find solutions.”
Additional Reporting: PA