The number of cyber sex offences against children in the North East has more than tripled, according to new figures.
The Northumbria Police data - released by the NSPCC - shows that the number of cyber offences dramatically increased.
In 2015-2016 the number of cyber offences was 98. By 2016-2017 the figure had shot up to 323.
The figures also show that there has been an increase in the number of sexual offences against children.
In the period 2015-2016 the number of recorded sexual offences against children was 1,482. In 2016-2017 the figure had increased to 1,965.
Over the combined period there were 152 victims were under the age of four and 610 victims under the age of 10.
The NSPCC believes the dramatic increase could be down to a number of factors - including nline grooming becoming a significant problem - but the charity says police forces have also improved recording methods and more victims feel more confident in reporint abuse.
The NSPCC is calling for Government to direct more resources to ensure high-quality training and support is available to frontline police officers to help raise awareness of safeguarding procedures and tackle child sex offences.
Peter Wanless, NSPCC chief executive, said the new figures suggest the police are making progress in how they investigate sex offences against children.
Chief Superintendent Scott Hall, head of Northumbria Police’s Safeguarding Department, encouraged parents to take an active interest in their children’s online activities.
He said: “What is notable in these figures is the sharp rise in sexual offences that have an associated cyber element and it is these types of crimes that are becoming more prominent.
“However, we are very proactive in dealing with these types of offences and have a dedicated Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT) who have the tools to identify sexual predators who use the internet to groom young people. They are focused on catching perpetrators who use the internet to target vulnerable young people.”
Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Dame Vera Baird QC said: “I am pleased that more victims in Northumbria now have confidence to come forward and talk to the police, either directly or through one of the many voluntary sector groups that we support and work with. “In addition Northumbria Police have significantly improved their reporting process for this type of crime. Both of these improvements feature in the numbers.
“In addition we are making great strides in Northumbria in educating young people about sexual exploitation.”