National Crime Agency says Britain is in the grip of a ‘chronic and corrosive’ threat from serious crimeTens of thousands of individuals accessing the most harmful categories of child abuse images through the dark web are in part fuelling the “truly staggering” level of serious and organised crime in the UK.

Top child abuse investigators have warned more than 144,000 web users in Britain are increasingly using the anonymisation technology to chase niche material while lowering the risk of detection.


Lynne Owens, director general of the National Crime Agency (NCA), said the scale of serious and organised crime in the UK posed a “chronic and corrosive” threat to the country.




She called for a £2.7bn investment from the government to tackle the swelling numbers of people involved in organises crime and online child abuse.


“Enhancing our capabilities is critical to our national security. If we don’t, the whole of UK law enforcement, and therefore the public, will feel the consequences,” Ms Owens added. 


“Some will say we cannot afford to provide more investment, but I say we cannot afford not to.

“The organised criminals of today are indiscriminate – they care less about what types of crime they’re involved in, as long as it makes them a profit.


“These groups are preying on the most vulnerable in society, including young children and the elderly – those most unable to protect themselves.”

In its annual report on serious and organised crime released on Tuesday, the NCA said the majority of child sexual abuse material existed on the open web.


However, it said its own research had found almost 2.9 million individuals worldwide were now accessing the most harmful materials available through the dark web.

Meanwhile, the NCA also said it had seen a 700 per cent increase in the number of reports of online child abuse and exploitation it received from internet firms.