NORTH Wales Police have teamed up with forces from Lancashire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Cheshire, Cumbria and a leading child protection charity to launch a campaign to tackle sexual images of children online.

ON Wednesday, they joined the regional campaign which represents a multi-agency approach to tackling the growing demand for sexually explicit images of children.

It will bring together robust law enforcement work with work already being undertaken by UK child protection charity, The Lucy Faithfull Foundation.

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.

It directs offenders to the charity’s Stop it Now! Get Help website that hosts online self-help resources, as well as the Stop it Now! confidential helpline (0808 1000 900).

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.

Police estimate that the number of offenders has grown since then and are working extensively to detect and prosecute people downloading such content.

The joint campaign launched today will use traditional media, social media, posters and other public relations activities to raise public awareness of the issue.

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 18's 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.

“Alongside police activity in arresting more and more offenders, the Lucy Faithfull Foundation has been working over these last two years to develop its own response and resources.

"Whether arrested or not, we want online offenders to stop their illegal behaviour and to stay stopped. Our specialist staff have helped thousands to do this over recent years.

"We have also helped thousands more family members come to terms with the fact that someone they know and love has engaged in this behaviour and get help to tackle the problem.”