Instagram is now the number one social network for child grooming 8 months ago

Instagram is now the number one social network for child grooming

Instagram is the leading social media platform for grooming children online, the UK's leading child welfare charity has said.

The photo-sharing app is the commonly used in cases of child grooming in England and Wales, according to the NSPCC.

Police handled over 5,000 cases of online grooming since April 2017.

Instagram was used by the perpetrator in a third of cases where the method was disclosed.

Facebook was used in 23 per cent of cases while Snapchat played a role in 14 per cent.

Girls aged 12 to 15 were most likely to be targeted by groomers, while 20 per cent of victims were 11 years old or younger.

Instagram has become the number one social network for child grooming

Using Instagram for grooming also appears to be on the rise.

The number of cases involving the app grew by 200 per cent in the space of a year, according to the NSPCC's figures.

The charity has said that social companies can no longer be allowed to self-regulate.

"We cannot wait for the next tragedy before tech companies are made to act," it told CNN.

"It is hugely concerning to see the sharp spike in grooming offences on Instagram and it is vital that the platform designs basic protection more carefully into the service it offers young people."

It has called for an independent regulator to be set up.